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Drug charges won't apply to marijuana users on private property

Good news has arrived for all of those area residents who enjoy smoking a small amount of marijuana in their own homes. A new ordinance in Jackson, Michigan, will allow the decriminalization of up to an ounce of pot for those who are 21 and older on private property. The ordinance is designed to reduce the number of minordrug charges that have been plaguing the area. That measure passed in November by nearly a two-to-one ratio, according to area news reports.

Even though law enforcement officers say they are struggling with some of the details of the law, they contend that they are committed to upholding the tenets of the provision. One of the primary concerns was the definition of "private property," as most retail establishments and other places of business are technically considered privately owned. Officers are still attempting to determine whether Jackson residents will be permitted to engage in drug distribution on their own land.

It is important to realize, however, that this mandate is only a city ordinance; state and federal laws still supersede its power. Area police officers say they intend to continue to enforce state laws in select situations, including cases that involve suspected drug dealers and other high-risk offenders. For example, if someone with multiple convictions is found to have even a small amount of marijuana on his or her person, that person could be subject to serious consequences that would not affect other citizens.

Although the law's intent seems wise, the effectiveness of its application remains to be seen. Some say that law enforcement officers enforce the laws unequally, targeting specific users by imposing state or federal mandates where they would not otherwise call on those laws. Criminal defendants should all be treated alike. Police should not be able to pick and choose whom to arrest simply because of their personal preferences. Qualified criminal defense attorneys can help those accused of drug offenses learn more about their legal rights and responsibilities in court.

Source: www.mlive.com, "Jackson police officials say they'll allow possession of marijuana on private property after public vote" Will Forgrave, Dec. 02, 2013

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