GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A Kent County judge is expected to deliver a written ruling soon on a charter amendment that would decriminalize marijuana possession in the City of Grand Rapids.
In November, Grand Rapids voters approved a charter amendment that would make marijuana possession a civil infraction punishable by a fine rather than a crime punishable by jail time. But the Kent County prosecutor challenged the amendment, saying it conflicted with state law and put local law enforcement in a difficult position.
Wednesday in court, Judge Paul Sullivan said he would make his official decision in writing in the coming weeks, but his line of thinking seemed clear. He made it clear his position is to apply the amendment as it is written, not determine whether or not it is right or wrong.
State laws currently prohibit changes to city ordinances that conflict with state law when it comes to substance control. But the change voters approved was a change to the city charter and that is not a violation of the law.
"It's to suggest to the enforcement authorities in the City of Grand Rapids how they want the enforcement authorities to process these types of cases," said Sullivan.
Sullivan lifted an order to stop the amendment from going into effect in January, but the city has held off implementing it as the legal battle has continued.
He also acknowledged that one thing would not change as a result of his decision:
"I would caution anyone out there who thinks that this whole thing is legal now to be careful, because it isn't necessarily the case," Sullivan said.
The point of dispute in the issue is who has the legal ability to make a change like the one in question. And Sullivan seemed to say that as the law is written, the voters can.
Mayor George Heartwell said though the amendment is scheduled to go into effect next week, the city is still determining what action it will take because it does not want to create a situation in which rules are changing frequently.
And no matter what happens, the case seems likely to move forward to the Court of Appeals.
One person is dead after firefighters found the victim's body inside a condominium complex in Kalamazoo Township that was on fire Wednesday afternoon.
11 fire departments from several counties were called out to a fire at an adult entertainment club Wednesday afternoon.
Holland police were searching for 28-year-old Mark Steven Randall Harris, who was considered armed and dangerous, but arrested him late Wednesday night.