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Grand Rapids leaders divided over pot proposal | News

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Grand Rapids leaders divided over pot proposal

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth says voters should reject a plan to decriminalize marijuana in Grand Rapids.

"It causes all kinds of trouble," he explains.

But City Commissioner James White, the city mayor and several other commissioners say voters should approve Proposal 2.

"Alcohol is far worse than marijuana," says Commissioner White.
"You are not legalizing it but you are reducing the penalty."

Under Proposal 2, people caught possessing marijuana within the city of Grand Rapids would face a maximum $100 fine, regardless of how much marijuana is involved.

"I could have a half pound or a pound and it's still a civil infraction," says Forsyth.

"Why should there be a limit on the amount?" Asks White. "It's weaker than tobacco. Do you have a limit on tobacco?"

The amendment would also prohibit Grand Rapids police from referring marijuana cases to county, state or federal agencies.

"[It would] tie the hands of Grand Rapids Police, saying you can't contact the agencies responsible for enforcing state and federal law," says Forsyth. 

"So they can prosecute the person and frustrate our law?" scoffs White.

"We have had a number of homicides and shootings that have involved marijuana," says Forsyth. "It's not this benign drug."

"Decriminalizing marijuana will reduce the profitability of it," argues White. "Remove the profitability and the gangsters lose interest, thereby reducing the violence. That's what I'm concerned about. Our kids are out there fighting and shooting each other over this and it's not necessary."

Prosecutor Forsyth says he probably wouldn't object if the Grand Rapids amendment was similar to a decriminalization proposal in Flint where only people over 18 could posses an ounce or less. Commissioner White says no one should go to jail over marijuana.