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Updated: Wednesday, 23 Jan 2013, 6:28 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 23 Jan 2013, 12:02 PM EST
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The war's not over, but the first legal battle has been won by supporters of the controversial amendment to Grand Rapids marijuana ordinance.
Kent County Circuit Court Judge Paul Sullivan issued a written statement Wednesday that lifted a preliminary injunction against the amended ordinance passed by Grand Rapids voters 59-41% in November.
The amendment makes marijuana possession in Grand Rapids a civil infraction, instead of a criminal act. Get busted and you'll get a fine instead of possible jail time.
To be clear, the decision only lifts the restraining order. Judge Sullivan still has to decide on the wider question of whether the amendment is legal.
Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth says it isn't.
In a move that brought protestors to the front door of his office, Forsyth asked for and got the restraining order against the amended ordinance in December.
Forsyth argued the amendment violates state law by prohibiting GRPD officers from enforcing state marijuana laws and takes away his ability to prosecute violators.
But in removing the restraining order, Judge Sullivan noted that while the amendment says the police and the city attorney can't refer complaints to the prosecutor's office, there's nothing that prohibits the prosecutor from using the sheriff's department or subpoenas from making a case.
The city has agreed to report certain marijuana-related offenses, like crimes committed by people busted with marijuana in their possession, to the prosecutor.
In his ruling, Judge Sullivan wrote:
"If and when the city's actions are shown to be inconsistent with its interpretation and intentions as reflected in the above referenced affidavits, plaintiff at such time may be entitled to seek the relief this court is unwilling to grant."
He also said the county prosecutor has no authority over the city and the laws it has on the books.
"In short, plaintiff's allegations of harm regarding the creation of a civil infraction are speculative and generalized. "
City officials and supporters of the amendment say they're ready to move forward.
"Many cities have been doing this for decades, so I'm sure we could learn from them and implement a great plan," said Michael Tuffelmire, leader of Decriminalize Grand Rapids , the campaign that helped pass the measure.
City Attorney Catherine Mish told 24 Hour News 8 that City Manager Greg Sundstrom and Police Chief Kevin Belk need to meet and talk about a timelinethat includes officer training on how to enforce the new rules.
That could take weeks.