Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 20 states including Michigan. And at the start of the New Year, Colorado became the first state in the country to sell it recreationally with the second state, Washington, doing the same come spring.
As laws become more laxed, there are some who feel possession of the drug should be decriminalized. Now one local non-profit, called Legalize MQT , is taking action to make it happen.
A one-year misdemeanor and $2,000 in fines is the maximum penalty for being charged with possession of marijuana in Michigan--a sentence Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Bloch feels is too harsh.
"Drug laws that we have today come from policies enacted in the time of alcohol prohibition," stated Bloch.
When asked what the new penalty should be, Bloch responded "a $100 civil infraction."
"The same thing as a speeding ticket or jay walking ticket," Bloch explained. "A penalty with no chance of going to jail."
The change would apply to anyone carrying 2.5 ounces or less--the amount Michigan??s medical marijuana law allows patients to possess. Anything higher, Bloch said, would "be a felony or misdemeanor under current statute."
Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese responded to the idea by stating it should either be "legal or not legal."
"And if it??s legal, then it can be regulated," said Wiese. "However, under federal law, it??s still going to be illegal unless the government changes its position."
Because of that, Wiese feels the decision should be made on a state level.
"It still doesn??t relieve the individual from being held liable under federal law," the prosecutor added.
As for now, the city of Marquette has been given a copy of the proposed ordinance by Legalize MQT. If the city decides against it, the group vows to gather signatures, get it on a ballot, and leave it up to voters.