Marijuana leaves legal experts confused, looking to state Supreme Court to clear the haze

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A large bag of marijuana presented at a recent trial in Kent County. (Barton Deiters |

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – You don’t have to be stoned to have trouble understanding the hazy tapestry of laws and ordinances governing marijuana in Michigan.

Not that long ago, understanding marijuana law was easy. It was illegal and possessing it could land a first-time offender in jail for anywhere from 93 days to one year.

Now, someone pulled over by police on Grand Rapids’ S-curve with marijuana in the car could face a spectrum of consequences depending on whether the cop is a Grand Rapids Police officer or a Michigan State Police trooper, and whether the driver has a Michigan medical marijuana card and if the card holder has the marijuana in the trunk or in the glove box.

Defense attorneys like Bruce Block, marijuana advocates, law enforcement and prosecutors like William Forsyth agree that following the law is a challenge for everyone – those seeking to enforce it as well as those seeking to adhere to it.

Grand Rapids passed its own ordinance changing possession of marijuana from a misdemeanor crime to a civil infraction.

But that law is now headed to the state Supreme Court because Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth says the local ordinance cannot co-exist with a state law that calls for possession to be a crime punishable by jail.

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