8:18 AM EST, November 8, 2012
FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Flint police and Michigan State Police troopers that patrol the city plan to arrest people for marijuana possession despite a vote on a city ballot proposal to decriminalize marijuana in some cases.
About 57 percent of ballots counted as of Wednesday were in favor of the proposal to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana by those 19 or older, The Flint Journal reported. The city said in a statement, however, that the proposal is "symbolic in nature" as officials defer to state and federal law.
"We're still police officers and we're still empowered to enforce the laws of the state of Michigan and the United States," said Flint police Chief Alvern Lock. "We're still going to enforce the laws as we've been enforcing them."
Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, who handles Flint and the surrounding area, said his office will continue to review cases that are brought to prosecutors.
Brian Morrissey of Coalition for a Safer Flint, the group that gathered signatures to get the initiative on the ballot, said he's disappointed with the city's decision.
"If the city police want to follow state law rather than city law, then maybe the state should be paying their salary," Morrissey said.
Similar ballot measures in Detroit and Grand Rapids got voter support Tuesday. And Ypsilanti residents voted to redirect police from enforcing marijuana laws. Ypsilanti Police Chief Amy Walker told AnnArbor.com that her police department will devote its time to more serious issues.
"The present state of the marijuana law in Michigan is in flux," Walker said. "The Ypsilanti Police Department takes all crime seriously, and we are under oath to enforce the law. Because of limited resources, we must devote the most effort to the most serious crimes against people and property."
Michigan voters in 2008 approved the use of marijuana for medical reasons, but parts of the law are being challenged in court.
In Kalamazoo on Tuesday, voters approved a charter amendment to establish medical marijuana dispensaries by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, MLive.com reported. The initiative calls for a licensing system to regulate dispensaries. Dispensary owners would pay an annual $3,000 registration fee to the city.