"It's there, it's available in our community. I think we're better off dealing with it as a civil infraction and dealing with the reality of it."
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is asking the city attorney to look into the impact and legalities of decriminalizing marijuana. He told wilx.com it's just a matter of time until there's a referendum on the issue, so he wants to know how cities like Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo have implemented it and how they're complying with state law.
The Mayor doesn't think decriminalization would be a huge change in Lansing because police don't treat simple possession as a priority right now. "We don't have the manpower to go after individual cases, so turning it into a civil infraction in many ways is just recognizing what already is, but would also stop the criminalization of a lot of our young people."
Decriminalization means people caught with marijuana, assuming they aren't complying with the state's medical marijuana law, would be given a ticket instead of being arrested. The Mayor calls it a rational approach to a drug that's readily available in the community. In fact, he says it's been pushed into neighborhoods since the state asked the courts to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.
The Mayor thinks a referendum would be the best way to decide if Lansing should decriminalize marijuana, but he won't be leading the charge for it and he isn't supporting legalization.