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Is The Penalty A Toss Up If You Light Up?

Is The Penalty A Toss Up If You Light Up? image Is The Penalty A Toss Up If You Light Up? image
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Marijuana- misdemeanor or felony? Although the question appears answered under Ann rbor's new city ordinance, there are still some bugs leff the grass. The city ordinance claims possession of marijuana to : a misdemeanor, but since the ordinance passed in Jan. )71 only one case has been brought befory the City ttorney Jerold D. Lax for prosecution. Instead, cases have been prosecuted under the more ringent state law. The difference? A misdemeanor upon inviction calis for a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail id a S100 fine while a felony means confinement at the ite prison with the length varying with the charge. A breakdown, according to County Prosecuting ttorney William F. Delhey, of that state prison penalty ipends upon which violation of the cannabis sativia law is been committed. "Marijuana is a generic term," efaced Prosecuter Delhey. "Not all marijuana plants are ircotic- only the cannibis sativia plant. It's like )ppy- only one of the poppy plants produce opium. "The three basic cannibis sativia violations are: sales or spensing with a minimum of 20 years; possession with a aximum of 10 years, but the average is five years obational plus a fine and court costs; and illegal use ith a maximum of one or two years which is also ■obational," explained Prosecutor Delhey. Pólice Chief Walter Krasny admits very few cases have :en taken to the city attorney's office. "A misdemeanor ust be performed in front of the officer," he said. "The Feelíng the State Cannibis Statute To Be 4W,a.itf Apn Arbqr Decided To Roll lts Own (co6i&sífríwísr j marijuana must be chemically tested to assure that something which looks, smells, and tastes like marijuana is in fact marijuana. This is why suspects aren't charged until days later when the evidence has been analysed." Frequently possession of marijuana is found as a result of an arrest for another offense, reports Chief Krasny. "If we arrest someone for armed robbery and he has a half ounce of marijuana on him, we're going to charge him on the more serious crime." "Our primary concern is hard drugs," continued Chief Krasny. Marijuana arrests are usually the leftovers, the type we bump into as a result of the others." Once the officer has made the arrest-who decides ander which law he will be prosecuted? According to 3hief Krasny this responsibility. rests witr' the investigative iivision of the pólice department who study the facts ;urrounding the case and make the determination of sending ït to the City Attörney or the County Prosecuting Attorney. Prosecutor Delhey said he couldn't break down the actual number of marijuana cases prosecuted since January because they are all indexed under the general hard narcotics file. "I can't understand why everyone keeps talking about the city ordinance when the Attorney General Frank Kelley held it to be unconstitutional. In view of that opinión, it would be wrong for any public officer to subject a person to an illegal law- even one that provides a lesser penalty," said Prosecutor Delhey. City Attorney Jerold Lax explained that the city ordinance does not have to be approved by anybody. "The attorney general said the law would be legal if we included a "peculiar purpose clause explaining how the law pertains to this community. So we included the local purpose. "It was not required and I thought the request unusual," siad City Attorney Lax. Debates over the fairness and legality of the law abound from all three areas of government- city, county and the pólice. Chief Krasny has gone on record at Council meetings for opposing the city ordinance. "The ordinance is in conflict with state law," said Chief Krasny. "There is so much controversy in this area concerning the harm of marijuana. Now the city ordinance allows pólice extra discrepancy. For example, if a nice girl were arrested she might be given the misdemeanor charge while someone like John Sinclair would be prosecuted under the state law. "Technically, the city is under the jurisdiction of the State and the State says possession of marijuana is a felony," continued Chief Krasny. "The City could be compared to Alabama's Governor George Wallace fighting the federal law about busing. The city is in effect telling the state 'Your law is unfair so we are making our own law.'" City Att. Lax feit "unfair" was the wrong word to describe the city's attitude toward the state law. "Every time you pass a city ordinance you make your own law," he said. "The city council feit the state law was extremelyj harsh. There is nothing inherently wrong about a locall body feeling a state law is harsh. The viewpoint is notl unique to the city council but acknowledged by manyl people throughout the city, state and country." ;