Berkley Pot Petition Turned In, Voters to Decide Nov. 4 (video)

Berkley Pot Petition Turned In, Voters to Decide Nov. 4 (video)

(Crystal A. Proxmire, July 2, 2014)

Berkley could soon be added to the list of Michigan cities with local ordinances legalizing marijuana thanks to the efforts of volunteers who turned in petitions on Tuesday to put a proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot.spiritual life ferndale

700 residents signed the petition, which was circulated by the Safer Michigan Coalition. If passed, the ordinance would make it legal for adults age 21 and older to possess, transfer and transport up to one ounce of marijuana. State and Federal laws could still apply to those who are caught, and enforcement would depend on how police in the city chose to address those in possession.

Berkley Public Safety Director Richard Eshman declined to comment as he had not yet reviewed the ballot language. Mayor Phil O’Dwyer, who does drug abuse counseling in his position as Director of Mental Health Services at Garden City Hospital, told The Detroit Free Press that he was concerned that an ordinance would increase acceptance among young people and increase impaired driving.

Petitioner Debra Young spoke about those remarks when she and fellow volunteers turned in the petitions Tuesday. “People are concerned about kids, so we tell them this is for people 21 and over. We’ve had dinos02sidelogo3people, especially the mayor here, question about impaired driving which of course will still be illegal,” Young said.

Young joined Safer Michigan Founder Chuck Ream and State Representative candidate Andrew Cissell in turning in the petitions.

Safer Michigan Coalition groups have successfully gotten ordinances passed in Ferndale and Jackson. Other cities with laws reducing the penalty for marijuana possession include Lansing, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Jackson, Grand Rapids and Flint.

The matter will be on the August 5 primary ballot in Hazel Park and Oak Park. They are now starting the process in Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge, and hope to work on a statewide measure for 2016.

“People are very receptive to this,” Young said. “They’re talking about Colorado and the money being gallowaycollens1raised in Colorado, things of that nature. They’re saying it’s time for personal freedom in their own homes. A lot of people say this has been a long time coming.”

Ream said that in Berkley in particular there were “many people” who did not sign the petition, but said they would vote for it once it got on the ballot. He said that its common for people in more economically affluent communities to be less public about their beliefs. Young said “We also had a lot of people who were hesitant to sign it… because they were afraid of repercussions of somebody seeing their signature on a petition which I think is a shame in America.”

Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana, and over a dozen other states have reduced penalties.

For previous stories on marijuana legalization efforts in Oakland County, see:


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