In November, voters in Jackson, Michigan voted to pass a city ordinance that decriminalized possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. The ordinance applies to those 21 and older on private property. Now, Jackson police are determining how to enforce that law and what the law means by “private property. “
Jackson Police Chief Matthew Heins said the city police department has advised its officers to follow the new law.
"First and foremost, it was my objective to enforce what voters voted on," Heins said. "We struggled with some details in the law, but it's the law."
Some of the subjects in the law Heins and others debated were what constitutes private property.
"Target is private property, for example," Heins said. "But we don't think it was the public's intention to allow a 21-year-old to possess marijuana at your local Target."
While the ordinance has removed criminal penalties for possession of marijuana, it is still unclear to what extent state and federal law will be enforced. As in Portland, Maine, the city has changed its laws, but state and federal laws remain the same. The Jackson County Prosecutor’s office has stated that it will continue to prosecute cases pursuant to those laws, and Chief Heins admits that there will always be extenuating circumstances that could lead to an arrest despite the new ordinance.
However, despite any extenuating circumstances and confusion regarding the parameters of the law, it seems clear that the Jackson Police will respect the public’s voice and permit marijuana possession on (most) private property.