Decriminalize GR Lashes Out At City Attorney For “Flip-Flopping” Position on Pot

Posted at 7:24 PM, Apr 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-08 20:49:20-04

A group dedicated to decriminalizing marijuana use in the city of Grand Rapids is angry with the city attorney for “flip-flopping” her position on the issue.

Decriminalize Grand Rapids claims that Catherine Mish has switched her opinion on how Grand Rapids Police should enforce the law.

Attorney Jack Hoffman said Mish has placed a motion before a judge that would require GRPD officers to enforce state law, which would mean stiffer penalties, for some of those using marijuana in Grand Rapids despite the public vote to decriminalize it.

The measure passed by 58 percent of the vote in November, making pot possession a civil infraction rather than a misdemeanor in many instances.

Decriminalize Grand Rapids supporters say the civil infractions should also apply to some of what the state considers higher offenses, such as a felony.

“The city executed a 180 degree reversal change in course,” said Jack Hoffman, attorney for DCGR.

During a press conference, Decriminalize Grand Rapids said Mish was working to derail the measure alongside the Kent County Prosecutor’s office.

However, Mish says the guidelines included in the motion that is before the judge are nothing new or surprising.

She says they are following the will of the people by issuing citations to those who possess or are using 2.5 ounces or less.

For amounts larger than that, and for those caught manufacturing drugs or operating a drug house, Mish says those crimes could be reportable to prosecutors and to the state.

“The city asked the court not to dismiss the prosecutor`s case, but for the court to enter an order that GRPD officers have a duty to enforce state criminal law despite the plain language in the charter amendment to the contrary,” said Hoffman.

Mish disagrees with the accusation her opinion has changed or that the motion she is presenting to the judge is anything new.

She said the city manager presented the guidelines in December.

“I don’t see it that way at all. The city has been very consistent since November….which was moving state law misdemeanors to civil law infractions and that’s what the city is trying to implement,” said Mish.