The celebration for those in favor of the passing of Charter Amendment Proposal 2 legalizing the possession and use of marijuana in the city of Grand Rapids was short lived.
On Dec. 3, just three days before the ordinance would have taken effect, and no doubt, some celebratory joints may have been lit, Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth filed an injunction against it. As well as the ordinance being in direct contention with state law, Forsyth cited that it prevents police officers and Grand Rapids city attorneys from reporting marijuana violations to Kent County prosecutors.
“I don’t think the city can legally do what it is trying to do,” said Forsyth.
Though the proposal had support from 60 percent of voters, Forsyth’s motion is making waves among supporters and opponents alike. Protesters gathered in front of his office on Dec. 6, urging the city to side with voters supporting decriminalization.
“Just because you vote for something doesn’t mean it’s legal,” Forsyth said.
Michael Tuffelmire, 31, the force behind the proposal and director of Decriminalize GR, begs to differ.
“I believe in people, freedom and democracy, and when the majority of a population votes yes on a measure, the county should respect that.”
Tuffelmire is now working to keep people informed.
“Prop 2 is not about having fun with marijuana; it’s about saving kids’ lives that are risk and saving the tax payers’ money,” he said.
The DCGR director is more than a little disappointed in the message the injunction is sending.
“I’m a little heartbroken…it takes a long time to convince people in certain neighborhoods that their vote counts,” Tuffelmire said. “…I just want people not to be discouraged, to know that their vote counts and that they count as citizens. Sometimes things that are outside the box take time.”
Decriminalize GR representatives City Attorney Catherine Mish and attorney Jack Hoffman appeared in court opposite the County Prosecutor’s Office on Jan. 9 in front of Kent County Circuit Judge Paul Sullivan, both sides posing arguments. Sullivan is expected to make a ruling next week, said Forsyth
Until then, the city will continue to comply with state law and prosecute marijuana use and possession as a criminal offense.