Cissell and Covey Turn in Pro Pot Petition for Ferndale (video)

Cissell and Covey Turn in Pro Pot Petition for Ferndale (video)

(Crystal A. Proxmire, July 30, 2013)

Despite Police Chief Tim Collins calling the effort a “waste of time,” and a “black eye for Metro Detroit,” former Mayor Craig Covey and Andrew Cissell have turned in over 600 signatures in a move to decriminalize marijuana in Ferndale.

The ballot proposal is similar to ones introduced in Jackson and Lansing, and to ordinances already in place in a handful of Michigan cities like Grand Rapids, Flint, Kalamazoo and Detroit.

Although the ordinance is in effect, people can still be charged under state and federal laws for possession.  Cissell is not deterred, stating that the ordinance would make a difference, “If the citizens of Ferndale vote on this and we got the petition signed, there’s no incentive for the police to do it. They no longer will make money off these arrests because we’re changing the code of ordinances.”

If passed, the ordinance would reduce possession from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction in the city, and removes the requirement of fines, which can be up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail.  The ordinance would apply to adults 21 and over, and only for marijuana in amounts of one ounce or less on private property.  The reduction in penalties would come only if the Police Department chose to enforce it as citation rather than under state and federal laws.

f115redCovey explained that decriminalization ordinances are a message to the government and law enforcement agencies.  “All across the country you see these kind of movements that are citizen led, that are grassroots.  The politicians still refuse to lead.  They’re leading from way behind.  Law enforcement is still unable to understand that the people do not want this kind of resources dedicated to this issue.  So it’s one more message that the people give to those who are in charge,” he said.

The personal reason Covey gives is financial. “My issue is resources.  We should not waste resources on private adults with personal amounts of marijuana.  There are hundreds of unsolved burglaries in this town.  We have cars being stolen in this town.  We ought to focus police, court, and law enforcement resource on actual crime that affects people,” he said.

Cissell is a 25-year-old resident with a business degree who works “networking” with the medical marijuana community.  He said that the movement is about “freedom,” and also a way for him to bring attention to his upcoming political campaign. He plans to run as State Representative for the 27th District, which will be an open seat once Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton is term-limited out. Covey is also looking at a potential mayoral candidacy.  He has gathered signatures, but has not turned them in yet and is still “undecided” if he will jump in the ring against current Mayor Dave Coulter and resident Sherry Wells.

Cissell credits Tim Beck of the Coalition for Safer Michigan for encouraging him to start the petition.  Beck has organized drives across the state, and his goal is to send a message to state legislators that they should decriminalize.  He noted that 17 states already have.  “This is nothing radical. This is JudyPalmer01nothing extreme.  You know what we’re doing has much much precedent for that.  In other states the world has not come to an end. Drug addiction has not spiked.  Kids have not gone wild in the street.  It’s worked out very well and the police have more time to focus on real crime.”   Beck decided to work with Cissell, he said, because Cissell has no fear.  “He has the guts and the courage and the work ethic and the discipline to get this done.”

The men have gathered over 600 signatures, more than the 364 required.  Once the signatures are validated by the City Clerk, the petition will be placed before Council at their Aug. 12 meeting. Council can either accept the petition and introduce the ordinance, or the issue will automatically go on the ballot for the Nov. 5 election.

Police Chief Collins is opposed to the petition, with his main concern being the projection of marijuana acceptance on young people in the community.  When asked if he would change his policing if council were to direct him to, Collins stated “First off, this council wouldn’t.  It would be bad massagepolitical form to direct the police department on how to enforce the law. The law is the law.”

For previous Ferndale 115 stories on marijuana, see: – Ferndale Place Moratorium on Medical Marijuana Based Businesses. – Ferndale Clinic Still Open After Raid

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