Voters in a dozen Michigan communities may have the opportunity to decriminalize marijuana at the ballot box this year.
Pot advocates are in various phases of collecting signature to force ballot initiatives in August and November.
If signatures are approved, Oak Park and Hazel Park would be the first to vote on decriminalizing pot in August.
The other communities – East Lansing, Saginaw, Mount Pleasant, Onaway, Harrison, Lapeer, Utica, Port Huron, Clare and Benzie County – would vote in November.
“The State of Michigan is ripe for change,” said Tim Beck, co-founder of the Safer Michigan Coalition, which is behind the effort. “It is highly likely every one of these efforts will be successful.”
Communities that have already decriminalized pot in Michigan include Detroit, Flint, Lansing, Jackson, Ferndale and Grand Rapids.
While decriminalization is a step forward, it’s far from a perfect safeguard for pot users. For one, it doesn’t prevent law enforcement from enforcing state and federal laws that still ban pot. And police in some communities just ignore the new ordinances, saying state law trumps local law.