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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Protestors circle Kent Co. prosecutor’s office building, demand respect for marijuana vote

gr pot protest1.jpg
Lindsey Smith
/
Michigan Radio

The City of Grand Rapids was prepared to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana today. But a Kent County judge issued a temporary restraining order to stop it.

So, roughly a hundred protestors gathered outside Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth’s office at high noon.

“It’s such a bummer that we’re ignored,” resident Nick Monroe said.

The prosecutor took the City of Grand Rapids to court over the amendment, saying it violates a number of state and federal laws. But a similar law in Ann Arbor has been in effect for decades.

Joel Zwyghuizen wasn’t surprised when he found out about the Republican prosecutor’s stance.

“Well I sparked one up. And I was like it doesn’t matter because all this stuff goes on everyday everywhere anyway. It’s a harmless personal decision,” Zwyghuizen said.

“People are free to be addicted to cigarettes; they’re free to purchase alcohol. The public opinion has shifted on this, it’s not stigmatized like it used to be,” Zwyghuizen added.

Dallas McCulloch was disappointed but not surprised. “I hate (State Representative) Roy Schmidt. I think that he sucks. So when I found out that (Forsyth) didn’t prosecute Roy Schmidt for trying to rig an election – I’m noticing a reoccurring theme here that elections they don’t mean a whole lot to (Forsyth) I don’t think.”

Schmidt caused controversy when he switched political parties back in May. He’s been cleared of any alleged wrongdoing.

58-percent of Grand Rapids’ voters approved the amendment in the November election. Teresa Love was one of them.

“The officials need to recognize that people voted and respect their vote,” Love said, “I think it costs the taxpayer more money to people in jail for a little marijuana than it does to accept the vote.”

Glenn Freeman thinks conservative leaders in Kent County are embarrassed the amendment passed in the more left-leaning city.

%22I%20don%27t%20think%20they%20wanted%20it%20to%20stand.%20It%27s%20just%20its%20not%20the%20image%20they%20want%20for%20Grand%20Rapids%2C%20even%20though%20that%27s%20what%20Grand%20Rapids%20is%20now%2C%20they%20don%27t%20want%20that%20to%20happen.%20So%20it%27s%20a%20power%20struggle%20is%20what%20it%20is%2C%22%20Freeman%20explained.

Freeman says voters realized they can’t change state and federal law, but they wanted to change the punishment.

The group that pushed for the charter amendment will seek to intervene in the legal case.

There’s a hearing in the case early next month. Until then, the amendment remains on hold.

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