Grand Rapids leaders support decriminalizing pot; Chief doesn't

6:29 PM, Sep 14, 2012   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Mayor George Heartwell and the majority of the Grand Rapids City Commission joined other public officials Friday in endorsing Proposal 2, a city ballot question that would decriminalize possession of marijuana.

"Gathering around this issue today is simply another example of Grand Rapids perhaps leading the way, but taking risks to getting something done," said John Logie, the city's mayor from 1992-2003, and chairman of the Decriminalize G.R. campaign.

He noted how the city enacted a needle exchange program and a drug court during his tenure.   "It's time, ladies and gentlemen to make another step," Logie said at a morning news conference.

Joining Logie was George Heartwell, who said a majority of the city commission supports the plan that would make marijuana possession a civil infraction, punishable by up to a $100 fine. Sale of marijuana would still be a crime.

State Representative Brandon Dillon, (D) Grand Rapids, told reporters Friday, "I think this is a common sense proposal that will not only save the city of Grand Rapids precious law enforcement resources, but will also help save the lives and futures of young people across this city who are currently having their futures ruined by petty marijuana possession charges."

Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk says the proposal would be harmful and would likely increase costs for this department.   Belk told reporters Friday:"I'm confident we'll see an increased use in people driving under the influence of marijuana - as a result of that we'll see an increased number of crashes involving injury and death...I don't think it's going to be a good thing for our young people - I think it's going to be more difficult for them to get employment - they will fail drug tests, their lives are going to be more difficult."

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