GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Grand Rapids voters passed a charter amendment decriminalizing marijuana possession Tuesday.
The day after the vote, the attorney for proponent group Decriminalize GR was still trying to ease concerns over the ordinance.
"I would like to calm some fears that perhaps the city's going to become a wide open city for drugs dealing," said attorney Jack Hoffman. "That's not going to happen."
The new ordinance labels possession a civil infraction and sets fines for people caught with marijuana, rather than charging them with a crime and sending them to jail.
The first offense will cost $25, the second offense will prompt a $50 fine, and each offense after that will cost $100.
"This is not legalization. This is decriminalization," said Hoffman. "Just as I would not advise anybody to speed or park in an illegal parking space, I would not advise anybody to commit a civil infraction."
But unlike a criminal conviction, a civil infraction won't follow those affected for the rest of their lives. The only way to get thrown in jail under the new ordinance is to not pay the fines.
The Grand Rapids Ordinance is modeled after a similar rule adopted by Ann Arbor Residents in 1974. The only difference is that Grand Rapids' ordinance keeps the sale of marijuana illegal.
Critics contend since there's no limits on how much you marijuana you can have, sellers could claim possession. Hoffman says the prosecutor can still up the charges if they feel that's the case.
"If you sell one marijuana cigarette, I don't care if it's one 100th of an ounce, you can be prosecuted under the criminal law," said Hoffman.
It's not yet known when the ordinance will go into effect.
Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk, a critic of the ordinance, told 24 Hour News 8 his officers will continue to enforce state law until the State Board of Canvassers certifies the election results.
Hoffman said he and the city attorney have already had that talk.
"I agree with the city attorney that at least until the Board of Canvassers certifies the results, the law has not gone into effect," Hoffman said. "That will be a week, 10 days. Then we're going to talk over the next week and try and get an agreement on what date," said Hoffman. "So we can tell people when the law goes into effect. And not only the public but the police are asking this question, too."
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