|By Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The questions aim to ease or eliminate local penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana, an approach that supporters call decriminalization.
Last week, volunteers submitted stacks of signed petitions in
The group planned to submit petitions signatures for
Supporters point to previous decriminalization election wins in nine
When deciding local ballot questions, "voters need to make it clear that they want police to spend their time addressing serious crimes, not punishing adults for using a substance that's less harmful than alcohol," said
-- The dangers: Marijuana poses more risks than many realize
Those opposed to easing marijuana laws say it will encourage young people to use the drug, causing many to suffer addiction and brain damage, and they claim that it leads some to try more dangerous drugs such as heroin. Opponents of decriminalization also say that watering down existing laws against marijuana sends a message to youth that marijuana isn't dangerous.
For most communities, decriminalizing marijuana means repealing widespread local ordinances that deem marijuana possession a criminal misdemeanor, typically punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of as much as
Supporters say that, by legalizing and regulating marijuana, society would squash the underground cannabis market, which would also slash access for teens because laws would limit users to adults.
The ballot questions in
"We have no choice -- we still have to follow the state law,"
"We're attempting to mobilize all of
"People think they're still voting for medical marijuana, but that ship has passed. They're now voting for anyone to smoke pot in their communities," said McGunn, executive director of the