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City Vs. County: Marijuana Wars, Or Forsyth’s Folly


safer michigan marijuanaProsecutors are people, too, but when the concept of not-in-my-back-yard is taken to the extreme these elected officials can overstep their bounds.

Grand Rapids is in Kent County, Michigan, and the city residents voted in 2012 to decriminalize marijuana possession and use. Although city officials were not in favor of allowing the petition drive, once the people had spoken the city responded.

Grand Rapids adopted the policy of citing citizens who carry up to two and one-half ounces with a civil infraction ticket. That amount mirrors the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act’s possession limit for patients. Citypolice were instructed to follow the charter amendment and issue tickets for pot possession instead of making misdemeanor arrests. The policy began on May 1, 2013, and enjoyed a smooth transition into standard operating procedure.

During the new law’s first 83 days, a total of 244 tickets were issued for possession or use. During the same period in 2012, before the new policy, 259 people were arrested and charged for misdemeanor marijuana possession. The city’s court system reported a reduction of four case PER DAY as a result of the new policy.

It’s a system that works for all parties concerned, and one that was modeled after the example set by Ann Arbor. Voters there modified the city charter in the 1970-s to decriminalize marijuana, and that law is still in place and keeping the city safe to this day.

Enter Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth.

Forsyth and Kent County has sued Grand Rapids to halt the decriminalization policy, claiming that the city can’t vary from state law regarding marijuana. The case was defeated in a lower court but was appealed;arguments were heard in the Court of Appeals in November. A decision is expected in the first half of 2015.

Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan, behind only Detroit in population. As such it is a very urban island amid the conservative waters of greater Kent County and the majority of the state’s Lake Michigan shoreline.

“I don’t think this case is about voters’ rights,” Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Tim McMorrow told the MLive Media Group. Then he said: ”The voters do not have a right to adopt anything they want… something doesn’t become valid because the voters voted for it.” The doublespeak is heavy here- the voters don’t have the right to do something but it’s not about voter’s rights. Clear as mud.

michigan local marijuana election results through 2014Forsyth’s intent is clear- stop cities under his jurisdiction from creating policies the County doesn’t agree with. In reality, if Grand Rapids were violating the state constitution it would be the Attorney General suing to halt the policy. Ann Arbor’s Washtenaw County has had more than a dozen prosecutors come and go during the era of their decriminalized marijuana policy and none of them felt it was their job to try and sink the city’s policy- or perhaps they all realized that they had no standing or cause to do such a thing.

Ann Arbor isn’t the only example Forsyth can rely upon for guidance in this case. 22 times within the last decade, ballot proposals liberalizing marijuana laws have been passed by voters in Michigan cities (see graphic above). Most of those ordinances were created despite the objections of the Governor and Attorney General; both offices openly admit they have no authority to interfere with elections law.

Apparently Prosecutor Forsyth thinks his authority exceeds that of the Governor. Both sides agree that the issue will not end with the Court of Appeals decision- it will be taken to the state Supreme Court. Since both the County and the City are litigants that derive their resources from tax revenue, the voters will be picking up the tab for Forsyth’s Folly at both ends of the argument and at every step of the way.

Source: TheCompassionChronicles.Com


About Author

"Rick Thompson was the Editor in Chief for the entire 2-year run of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, was the spokesman for the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers and is the current Editor and Lead Blogger for The Compassion Chronicles. Rick has addressed committees in both the House and Senate, has authored over 200 articles on marijuana and is a professional photographer." Rick Thompson Is An Author At The Compassion Chronicles and focuses on all things Michigan.


  1. We’ve got one here in Phoenix AZ too. His name’s Bill Montgomery he’s the Maricopa County DA. He’s WASTED so much taxpayer money trying to overturn AZ’s Medical Marijuana law. He’s not won ONCE, but he keeps appealing the courts decisions to the next highest Court. Then after he LOSES, he’ll find a different and even MORE bizarre way to approach the case than the approach before. Just continuing to COST the defendants MORE $$$ to defend themselves further.

    I empathize and sympathize with y’all in MI. Just DON’T FORGET THIS SHIT come election time! Work AGAINST these people to remove them from their seats in office. Only WE can change it and that means ALL OF US MUST VOTE!

  2. Thanks Mr. Forsyth for wasting tax dollars and trying to supplant the will of the people: Coffers are over flowing, in every county and city, in every state….

  3. “I don’t think this case is about voters’ rights,” Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Tim McMorrow told the MLive Media Group. Then he said: ”The voters do not have a right to adopt anything they want… something doesn’t become valid because the voters voted for it.”


    I am sure it is in his intere$t to fight against Democracy. Why else would he say something as stupidly irrational as that? Could he (in fact) really be that daft? And if so, how did he get his position?

    So, my suggestion in this case would be for those who live in the area to research the rules and regulations that somehow allowed this idiot to have a job in this particular field. In other words, determine how Timmy McMorrow got his job, find where the stupidity loopholes reside, and work to correct them so that intelligent people can fulfill the positions instead of lunatics.

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