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Judge puts hold on Grand Rapids' pot rule

12:08 AM, Dec 4, 2012   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- The Grand Rapids charter amendment that would make marijuana possession punishable with the equivalent of a parking ticket will not take effect Thursday as scheduled.

"The public needs to know we are in a holding pattern," says Grand Rapids city attorney Catherine Mish.

Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth has obtained a temporary restraining order against the city to at least delay the implementation of the new law.

Forsyth says the amendment is illegal because it makes the city marijuana laws more lenient than the state, and forbids officers from reporting violations for possible prosecution under state or federal law.

"This ordinance is going to tie the hands of Grand Rapids police," Forsyth explained in an interview in October. "It says officers can't contact the agencies responsible for enforcing state and federal law."

Grand Rapids voters approved the city charter amendment decriminalizing marijuana by more than a 58% majority in the election last month.

The mayor and a majority of city commissioners also support the amendment.

"I'm the legal advisor to the Grand Rapids city commission and they have spoken quite clearly," says Mish.  "They want to implement the will of the voters.  The city will do everything it can within its legal power to implement this city charter amendment."

A hearing on the temporary restraining order is scheduled for January 9.

"This may go on for awhile," says Commissioner James White.  "Whatever it is, be smart. It's up to you to make sure you live within the law. If the law says you can't walk around with marijuana, then don't do it. Be smart."

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