Times are changin’: Grosse Pointe Park to vote on decriminalizing pot

Pot Joint

The Grosse Pointe communities in metro Detroit have long been synonymous with conservative values.

Now cannabis advocates want to see whether attitudes toward marijuana have relaxed so much that voters in Grosse Pointe Park would decriminalize pot. Volunteers recently gathered what they believe are enough signatures to let voters decide on loosening the pot laws in November.

Leading the effort is Safer Michigan Coalition, which has run successful petition drives in the past and is responsible for similar efforts in other cities.

Of all the Grosse Pointe communities, the Park is the most politically moderate.

Advocates hope to trigger ballot proposals in at least 12 Michigan communities this year.

“Frankly, Grosse Pointe Park is an experiment with us because we’ve never taken on this economic and cultural demographic before,” marijuana advocate Tim Beck, 62, of Detroit, told the Free Press.

Not everyone is so cool with pot.

“It’s unfortunate that our community has been targeted as a test case for this ballot proposal,” City Councilwoman Laurie Arora told the Free Press. “As a councilwoman, mother and resident, this is not what I want our community to be known for.”

Earlier this month, Berkley became the third city so far where voters can decide whether they want to decriminalize pot, following in the paths of two other Michigan cities.

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.

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