Senate Okays Bill Forcing Michigan Cities To Impose Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Offenders

Thursday, 01 April 1999

The state Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation last week that would impose criminal penalties for minor marijuana offenders in the cities of Ann Arbor and East Lansing.

"Senate Bill 380 would needlessly subject thousands of otherwise law abiding citizens in Ann Arbor and East Lansing who smoke marijuana to criminal arrest and incarceration," said NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq., who denounced the measure. "Many of these citizens are college age students, just starting careers, who could find their futures jeopardized by the long-term ramifications of an arrest and criminal record."

Local ordinances in Ann Arbor and East Lansing punish minor marijuana offenders with a $25 fine, a penalty that deviates from the state law which calls for a $100 fine and up to 90 days in jail. Senate Bill 380, introduced by Sen. Beverly Hammerstrom (R-Temperance), would prohibit municipalities from adopting local drug ordinances with penalties softer than the state law.

The Senate approved the measure by a 36 to 1 vote last Thursday. It now awaits action by the House of Representatives.

For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.