Marijuana legalization should have gone to Detroit voters, appeals court rules

A petition drive aimed at giving voters in the City of Detroit voters the option of decriminalizing the possession of marijuana was improperly barred from the ballot in 2010, the state Court of Appeals said in a decision released this morning. The appeals court reversed the ruling of a Wayne County judge, who let stand a decision by the Detroit Elections Commission to keep the issue off the ballot because they believed the proposal conflicts with state drug law. A 2-1 majority of the appeals panel said city officials did not have the authority to make that determination.

“It was outside the authority of (city officials) to consider the substance and effect of the initiative and defendants have a clear legal duty to place the matter on the ballot,” the court wrote.  In the majority were judges Henry Saad and Elizabeth Gleicher. Dissenting was Judge Jane Markey. Tim Beck, leader of the Coalition for a Safer Detroit, which mounted the petition drive, called the appeals court decision “a great day for voters’ rights in the City of Detroit.” The election commission’s decision to deny ballot access was “total hocus-pocus,” Beck said. “We did everything right. Every I was dotted, every T crossed.”

Timothy Knowlton, an attorney who represented the coalition in the appeal, said the ruling should mean the issue will appear on the Detroit ballot in August. That could change, however, if the city seeks further court review, he said.  If approved by voters, the ordinance would amend the city code to decriminalize the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana by an adult. Possession of marijuana by someone other than a medical marijuana patient would remain illegal under state law

via : Detroit Free Press

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