Marijuana officially decriminalized in Kalamazoo, Michigan

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, October 2, 2012 12:50 EDT

City Commissioners in Kalamazoo, Michigan voted unanimously on Monday night to decriminalize marijuana, saying that the new ordinance will help police respond to serious crimes even faster than before.

The ordinance imposes a misdemeanor charge for adults over 21 who are caught with less than one ounce of marijuana, carrying with it a fine of up to $100 or a jail sentence not to exceed 93 days. Similarly, first time offenders who plead guilty will have the option of serving probation in exchange for a deferred judgement that is not considered a conviction. The city previously prosecuted small time marijuana offenders under state law, which prescribes a fine up to $2,000 and no more than a year in jail.

City Attorney Clyde J. Robinson recommended Kalamazoo commissioners adopt the ordinance because small marijuana arrests are so frequent that they require “an inordinate amount of [police] resources to catalogue and test marijuana held as evidence.” He added that the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety believes the ordinance will be “a better use of law enforcement resources.”

In an agenda report to the city commissioners (PDF), Robinson explained that the ordinance was in part based upon the City of Chicago’s marijuana decriminalization scheme, passed in June. Chicago officials explained that the ordinance was needed because thousands of cases concerning small amounts of marijuana were clogging up the courts, but the vast majority get dismissed.

“It is anticipated that enforcement of possession of marijuana will result in savings to the KDPS through elimination of processing arrestees and in lab/evidence expenses,” Robinson wrote. “The significance of having officers freed up to respond to calls of service instead of being tied up processing an arrest cannot be understated.”

Voters in Kalamazoo also passed a ballot initiative last year that directs police to treat marijuana as their lowest law enforcement priority. So far, it is the only city in Michigan to do so.


  • mrshameed says:

    It’s a step in the right direction but doesn’t go far enough. What about those who are patients? Does anything in this change their status? 93 days is a long time to be in jail.

    • Any step in the right direction is a huge win for the industry; the issue is to unravel the misconception about the medicine that has been ingrained into people for many years. That will take time, it is better to focus on the positives of wins like this instead of the negatives and hope that over time those that are in decision making positions start to change the landscape for the better.

      • mrshameed says:

        I agree with that but unless they RECLASSIFY it, nothing is going to happen that needs to happen- God forbid some United States citizens make some money, what with all the jobs being shipped overseas and such!

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