As more states and municipalities are voting to decriminalize recreational marijuana use, Ann Arbor could be closer to legalization.

The residents of six Michigan cities voted to decriminalize the use of cannabis on election day this year. Marijuana use is legal in some form in 23 states, and was legalized for recreational use this November in Alaska and Oregon. The states are the third and fourth states to adopt such a policy.

LSA senior Brian Kardell, codirector of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said his organization is working to create a dialogue surrounding the need for marijuana legalization.

“Our goal is basically have open conversations about drug use and drug abuse,” Kardell said. “We think the war on drugs is a failed policy. It puts hundreds of thousands of people in prison for drug-related offences. Ann Arbor is considered a safe place for marijuana, but we don’t condone or condemn drug use, we just know the drug policy needs to change on a large scale.”

Kardell said his organization’s support of the legalization of marijuana in the state of Michigan stems from observing what has happened in other states following cannabis legalization, considering the negative effects of keeping marijuana on black markets instead of regulating it.

“All we have to do is look to Colorado and Washington to see how much money the state has made because of the legalization and regulation of marijuana,” Kardell said.

The use of marijuana has been decriminalized in Ann Arbor since 1974, but the possibility of legalizing the substance in Michigan could be shifting closer to reality, given the results of the recent midterm election.

“In town, it’s very prominent, mostly because it’s been decriminalized since the ’70s,” said Samantha Anderson, member liaison at Om of Medicine, an Ann Arbor marijuana dispensary. “People are more open to it all around, whether you are an adult or you’re younger because there’s just more leeway with the different charters that the city has for cannabis use.”

Anderson said Om of Medicine has 4,000 active patients, but has a total of 6,000 patients in its computer system.

Along with the service it provides to patients, Anderson added that Om of Medicine has fundraising events for politicians and political initiatives.

“That definitely has stirred up a lot of different pieces of legislation that’s going all over the country,” Anderson said. “Just the acceptance of that is helping our cause because if people are going to be open to adult use, they’re definitely going to be looking into supporting medical cannabis too.”

LSA senior Justin Gehr said progressive students drive the marijuana-friendly culture, but Ann Arbor’s city laws also contribute to people’s perceptions.

“I feel like a lot of it has to do with some many young forward-thinking people,” he said. “I feel like that’s where the big population of marijuana smokers are.”

According to Ann Arbor’s City Charter, the penalty for possessing or using marijuana is considered a civil infraction, similar to a traffic ticket. Possessing or abusing marijuana results in a fine of $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second offense and is capped at $100 for a third or subsequent offense.

Individuals who violate the city charter because of marijuana use or possession only have to pay the fine. City charter says “no incarceration, probation, nor shall any other punitive or rehabilitative measure be imposed.”

However, an amendment to the City Charter on Nov. 2, 2004 allowed fines to be waived if a person has a medical identification card recommended by a physician or another health professional for medical treatment.

Even with the amendment to the charter in 2004, the University has different laws pertaining to marijuana possession and abuse because it is under the jurisdiction of state laws.

“Because the University is chartered through the state legislature, our officers aren’t under the umbrella of the city,” said Diane Brown, Department of Public Safety and Security spokeswoman. “Our officers are granted their authority from the state and therefore, enforce state law.”

For possession or use of marijuana on University property, the penalty is a misdemeanor, which incurs a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment up to one year for a first offense.

Even though Ann Arbor’s City Charter permits the use of marijuana for medical treatment, citizens and students cannot use marijuana on campus. Because the University receives federal funding, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, which has been in effect since 2008, does not take precedence over federal laws regarding marijuana use.

According to the Annual Security Report provided by University police, there has been a rise in drug arrests over the past three years, including marijuana. In 2013, drug law arrests, which are reported to University Police, and drug law violations, which are reported to Campus Security Authorities, decreased from 2012. Over the past three years, 2012 had 134 instances of drug law arrests, which was the highest. In regards to drug law violations, 2011 had the highest number of instances at 202 over the past three years.

Correction appended: A previous version of this article misstated the proportion of patients who are students. That number was intended to refer to the number of patients using dispensaries, not the proportion who are students..

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