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Decriminalize GR brings 'Historic' ballot initiative to voters

An article outlining the Decriminalize GR ballot initiative Proposal 2 in the upcoming November 6 2012 local election
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Learn more about Proposal 2

If passed, Proposal 2 would:

  • Decrease a possession of a user amount of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction
  • Save city taxpayers $2.5 million dollars annually
  • Free up shrinking resources for the Grand Rapids Police Department
  • Allow college students to keep their eligibility for student loans and grants

Visit the DCGR Facebook page.


On November 6th Grand Rapids voters will have the chance to vote on a city charter amendment to make marijuana possession or use a civil infraction or the equivalent of a ticket with a fine of up to $100.

The ballot initiative known as Proposal 2 was made possible by Decriminalize GR (DCGR). The ballot initiative committee collected over 10,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot next month. 

According to the DecriminalizeGR website “Decriminalizing marijuana will save the city $2.5 million in taxpayer dollars a year in arresting, prosecuting, and jailing people for a victimless crime."

“Decriminalization is not legalization. It will still be a crime to possess marijuana in Grand Rapids, the difference is that the punishment will fit the crime,” says Michael Tuffelmire, a Director of DCGR.

Currently, an offense for possession carries additional penalties for college students.

“If a student is convicted of a drug offense after receiving Federal aid money, he or she must notify the Financial Aid department immediately and that student will become ineligible for further aid and also be required to pay back any and all aid received after the conviction,” according to the United States Department of Education

Tuffelmire states that this is unfairly harsh and “it inhibits their chances at public education and future employment.”

By reducing the crime of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction, Proposal 2 would eliminate a “tough barriers to education and employment,” Tuffelmire says.

“[The initiative is an historic opportunity for Grand Rapids," says Tyler Nickerson, DCGR’s Political and Communications Director. "It is rare in our history for 10,000 signatures to be placed on a ballot for a vote. It is a true moment for Grand Rapids citizens to support local laws.”

Grand Rapids is not the only city in Michigan to propose a marijuana decriminalization initiative.

Last week, the city council of Kalamazoo officially passed a similar measure in a unanimous vote to decriminalize marijuana. Ann Arbor has had an ordinance that “possession of small amounts of the substance merely a civil infraction subject to a small fine” in effect for nearly 40 years. Proposal 2 initiative is almost verbatim to Ann Arbor’s, with the purpose to “stop the heavy percentage of arrests for 18-25 year olds,” says Tuffelmire.

“[Proposal 2 would] realign the Grand Rapids Police Department’s shrinking resources to addressing more serious crimes,” according to Nickerson. The amount of time and money spent on the “victimless crime” of possessing a small amount of marijuana can be prioritized to more severe crime issues in the city of Grand Rapids. The DCGR website has a page dedicated to the current costs to the city breaking down the fiscal costs to arrest, house and process criminals for minor marijuana possession.

If you are interested in learning more about decriminalization of marijuana or to support DCGR please visit their website.

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