Does Lansing’s pot legalization ballot initiative mean anything?

By Andy Balaskovitz
City Pulse file photo.

Lansing City Clerk confirms organizers collected enough valid signatures for a November ballot question, but says the language ‘pretty clearly does not legalize anything’

Monday, Aug. 26 — Lansing voters will decide in November whether to add language to the City Charter related to the “use, possession or transfer” of up to an ounce of marijuana for those 21 and older, Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope confirmed today.

However, Swope believes the ballot language “pretty clearly does not legalize anything,” and, if approved, merely prevents the city from adopting an ordinance restricting the use, possession or transfer of up to an ounce of marijuana. It also doesn’t invalidate existing ordinance because Swope said there isn’t one.

“I don’t believe it prevents Lansing police from enforcing state law, which I think is what they currently do,” Swope said. “I’m not sure it has any impact at all. … I’m not an attorney, but that’s the way I look at it.”

The full language reads: “Shall the Charter of the City of Lansing, Michigan be amended such that nothing in the Code of Ordinances shall apply to the use, possession or transfer of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, on private property, by a person who has attained the age of 21 years?”

Organizers behind the Coalition for a Safer Lansing turned in over 6,000 signatures earlier this month in an attempt to get the City Charter amendment question before voters in November, when they will also vote on City Council candidates in the 2nd and 4th Ward and At-Large races, as well as mayor.

Jeffrey Hank, an attorney leading the coalition, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Swope said today that he counted at least 4,177 valid city-resident signatures. Organizers needed at least 4,166 to get the question on the ballot.