Understanding Marijuana Possession Decriminalization in Grand Rapids, Michigan
In 2012, voters in Grand Rapids, Michigan decided, with a 58 percent vote, in favor of enacting a Charter Amendment designed to decriminalize the use and possession of small quantities of marijuana within the city limits. While Michigan state law allows for use and possession of marijuana for authorized medicinal purposes, the Grand Rapids Charter Amendment took local marijuana law a step further, permitting recreational use of marijuana – so to speak. The Grand Rapids Restrictions of Marijuana ordinance can be found in Grand Rapids Code of Ordinances, Title XVIII, Section 292.
To be clear, Grand Rapids has not legalized the use of marijuana. Rather, Grand rapids has simply decriminalized the act marijuana possession from a criminal offense to a civil, non-criminal offense. In effect, the consequences for being caught with marijuana within city limits and by city police are significantly less serious than being caught outside city limits engaging in the same activities. Instead of facing a criminal record and jail time for being caught with marijuana in Grand Rapids, individuals who are caught by the authorities with marijuana in their possession will be cited (similar to receiving a traffic ticket) and charged a fine of:
- $25 for a first offense.
- $50 for a second offense.
- $100 for a third or subsequent offense.
If the individual has a medical reason for his or her use, but simply is not registered for medical use, the fine will be waived.
Michigan Supreme Court Weighs In
In late 2015, the Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear a case concerning a Court of Appeals ruling that indicates that the Grand Rapids city marijuana possession decriminalization ordinance does not contradict state law. As such, the city charter marijuana possession amendment is constitutionally valid. The Michigan Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the case means that the Grand Rapids’ law is effective and is not preempted by state law.
How Much Marijuana Is Too Much?
While the Charter Amendment is not specific as to how much marijuana a person can have in their possession and pay the civil fine, but authorities in Grand Rapids draw the line at two and a half ounces or twelve plants in any one person’s possession at one time.
Grand Rapids Charter Amendment Only Applies In Grand Rapids
It cannot be stressed enough that the Grand Rapids Charter Amendment is only applicable within the city limits of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Additionally, it is important to emphasize that only city law enforcement are bound by the Charter Amendment. Conversely, county and state law enforcement are not bound by the Charter, even if they are within Grand Rapids jurisdiction. These law enforcement officers may choose between issuing the civil citation under the Charter Amendment, or applying the Michigan criminal misdemeanor charges.
Marijuana possession is only decriminalized in a few places in Michigan, including Grand Rapids, but marijuana possession, use and sale is still illegal. Please contact the Michigan criminal defense team at Van Den Heuvel Law Office if you have been charged with marijuana possession. Call us at (616) 698-0000 or contact us online for assistance.