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Michigan Court Keeps Detroit Marijuana Initiative Off Ballot

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #647)
Drug War Issues

In an August 26 ruling, the Wayne County Circuit Court refused to order the Detroit city clerk to put a municipal marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot. Initiative organizers, the Coalition for a Safer Detroit had gathered sufficient valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot, but in a surprise move earlier this month, the city's Election Commission removed the measure from the ballot, saying it was preempted by state law.

Comerica Park, Detroit (
The Coalition for a Safer Detroit is now considering an appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals. But with election day little more than two months away, there are questions about whether a decision would come quickly enough to get the measure back on the ballot in time.

The Wayne County Circuit Court took and decided the case on an expedited basis. It is not clear whether the appeals court could or would also do so.

The initiative would have legalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana on private property for people 21 or older. It would have done so by simply removing all references to simple marijuana possession by adults from the city code.

The coalition handed in more than 6,000 voter signatures earlier this year, and the initiative was approved by the same Detroit Election Commission that killed it August 9. After it was approved, in accordance with city law, the initiative went before the Detroit City Council, which could have voted to make the initiative law. By failing to vote on the initiative, the Council cleared the way for the voters to make their preferences known in November -- or so everyone thought.

But the Election Commission voted 3-0 to remove the measure from the ballot. The surprise move came after Detroit Corporation Counsel and commission member Krystal Crittenden told the commission that in the opinion of the city's law department, which she oversees, state law forbidding marijuana possession preempted the measure.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Clark Culver (not verified)

This is just one more example of politicians using every trick in the book to deny the will of the people.

There is good reason to believe that this measure would have passed in Detroit.

I hope they take the case all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

And, I hope they vote the bums who made this decision out of office.

Sat, 08/28/2010 - 9:12pm Permalink
Matt1972 (not verified)

The voting public needs to speak up and tell these politicians who pays their salaries.  I might be wrong, but I thought that the view of "democracy" was that the voice of the people is what matters.   

Sat, 10/30/2010 - 3:19pm Permalink

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