Statewide Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Introduced in Michigan

Statewide Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Introduced in Michigan

Bill would reduce penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a fine of $25 to $100

LANSING, MI — A long anticipated bill to decriminalize the possession or use of up to one ounce of marijuana state-wide in Michigan has been filed this week with bi-partisan support.

Rep. Jeff Irwin, a Democrat who represents Ann Arbor, where marijuana possession has been decriminalized for decades, introduced House Bill 4623 on Wednesday. Four Democrats and two Republicans joined Irwin as co-sponsors.

House Bill 4623 would make the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana a civil infraction punishable by a fine. The fines would be scaled based on prior marijuana possession offenses.  First time offenders would be fined $25, second offenses would be subject to a $50 fine, and any subsequent offenses would result in a $100 fine.

The measure has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

Under present law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year incarceration and a maximum fine of $2,000.

“We know, and the people here in Michigan know, that marijuana prohibition is not working,” Rep. Irwin said at the bill’s introduction Wednesday. “Despite the fact that we’re spending a minimum of $325 million a year on arresting, trying and incarcerating marijuana users in this state, we know marijuana has never been more available. We know that law enforcement has not been successful at keeping marijuana out of the hands of anyone in this state.”

“Alcohol prohibition also didn’t work,” Irwin continued. “When we adopted a more sane, may I say sober policy for alcohol, we were better able to control it and keep it out of the hands of our children.”

“This is the right time to have this debate in Michigan,” added Republican co-sponsor Mike Shirkey.  “We’re using a lot of money, energy and resources in Michigan and across the nation to accomplish something we’ve failed at.”

The bill is also co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Callton, who recently introduced legislation to allow medical marijuana dispensaries as part of the state’s existing medical marijuana program.

Irwin hints that many Michigan lawmakers may privately support reform, but are not yet willing to publicly support legislation.

“There is far more interest than most people realize,” Rep. Irwin said in February, adding that public opinion could easily help change their mind.

At least one key Republican lawmaker has said he would be willing to listen to Irwin’s bill with an open mind.

“I’m willing to discuss it but I don’t want to get too far ahead of the curve,” says the GOP chair of the Senate Appropriations committee Sen. Roger Kahn, adding that although he is not in favor of decriminalization, he could support a bill if it was “done the right way.”

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a long time opponent of Michigan’s medical marijuana program, is expected to lead the opposition against marijuana decriminalization in the state.

We should not go down this road of legalizing drugs,” Schuette told television station WILX earlier this week. “It exposes young kids, children, to ever more potent drugs use, and I think that’s not good for the in the future.”

“It’s just impossible for these law enforcement officials who are in the leadership of these organizations to admit that what they’ve been working on for so many years just hasn’t been working,” counters Rep. Irwin, adding that marijuana prohibition is costly and ineffective. “It’s plain as the nose on my face to any citizen in Michigan that marijuana prohibition isn’t working.”

Several cities in Michigan, including  FlintDetroit and Grand Rapids, have passed local ordinances that decriminalize marijuana possession within their communities, but despite voter approval, these measures have largely been ignored by police, who continue to make arrests under state laws.

Michigan has been a medical marijuana state since 2008, and a recent report showed nearly $10 million in revenue was generated in 2012 for the state by the medical marijuana program.

Seventeen states have adopted some type of marijuana decriminalization law, including Washington and Colorado, where voters recently approved ballot measures to legalize recreational use.


Michigan residents are urged to contact their elected officials and ask them to support House Bill 4623.  


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  • Malcolm Kyle

    .. “What of the cripple who hates dancers? What of the ox who loves his yoke and deems the elk and deer of the forest stray and vagrant things? What of the old serpent who cannot shed his skin, and calls all others naked and shameless? And of him who comes early to the wedding-feast, and when over-fed and tired goes his way saying that all feasts are a violation and all feasters lawbreakers?”

    —Khalil Gibran

    It is the Prohibitionists, a wholly malignant scourge of absolute scoundrels, who are literally strangling the Constitution and starving Freedom to death. And until the Freedom and Constitution of our once proud and prosperous nation is secured, these same prohibitionist parasites, with their promotion of organized crime, murder, terrorism, and economic recession—and who carry with them a disease far fouler than Old Testament leprosy—shall be hunted down, removed from public life, and punished accordingly.

    Prohibition is an absolute scourge —The End! The use of drugs is NOT the real problem, the system that grants exclusive distribution rights to violent cartels, terrorists, and corrupt politicians most definitely IS.

    Prohibitionists are simply traitors that haven’t yet been Tried and Executed!

    • Eddie273273

      Exactly !
      Time to put and end to corruption in our government .

      End the failed war on Americans/ drugs .

    • tori

      Well said

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  • bartell

    yea i got my card now but got a possession charge for a roach and was at work and not driving and they take ur license thats the catch

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