At this weekend’s 44th Annual Hash Bash in Ann Arbor Saturday State Representative Jeff Irwin made a huge announcement. He told the sizable crowd, including legendary activist and comedian Tommy Chong as well as Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero that he is drafting a bill to introduce into the state legislature that would legalize marijuana in Michigan.
“It’s going to be Colorado improved in the Great Lakes state,” he said, reports MLive who continue:
The idea that marijuana prohibition is effective at doing anything is wrong,” Irwin told MLive on Tuesday in a follow-up interview. “It’s a put-your-head-in-the-sand approach, and it doesn’t work.”
By legalizing recreational marijuana, which is readily accessible in many areas despite its illegality at the state level, Irwin suggested that law enforcement officials could spend more time protecting kids from hard drugs, like crystal meth and heroin.
His pending legislation, informed by legalization laws in Colorado and Washington, seeks to create a system for taxable sales of marijuana to adults, licensing of growers and retailers and local control provisions allowing communities to decide whether or how they will allow retail stores.
The bill will not seek to change Michigan’s voter-approved medical marijuana law, according to Irwin. If approved, it would allow other residents to grow their own plants for personal use but not sale.
The annual Hash Bash—a collection of speeches, live music, street vending and mass pot-smoking was first held on Saturday, April 1, 1972. It was a direct response to a March 9th 1972 decision by Michigan Supreme Court declaring unconstitutional the law used to convict cultural activist John Sinclair for possession of two marijuana joints. (The Beatles John Lennon wrote a song about Sinclair’s arrest; “Let him be, set him free Let him be like you and me,” he sang. The result of the Michigan Supreme Court ruling left the State of Michigan without a law prohibiting the use of marijuana until after the weekend of April 1, 1972.
Currently in Michigan possession of any amount of weed, without a medical recommendation, is considered a misdemeanor—punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. However, the penalty for cannabis law violations in the City of Ann Arbor is a $30 fine and $25 court costs for a total of $55. Hopefully this new legislation will put an end to the state’s bogus marijuana penalties.
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