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Ypsilanti Police Defy Pot Law

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YPSILANTI - Ypsilanti's lenient marijuana law, adopted last month in a referendum election, is being challenged by the Ypsilanti Police Department. Police arrested David Gray, 19, of 301 N. Adams St., on a charge of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. Gray is alleged to have attempted to smuggle a pack of cigarettes containing a couple of marijuana joints into a friend at the Ypsilanti City Jail on April 29. Gray has been charged under the stricter state law, despite a section of the local ordinance which states," "No Ypsilanti police officer . . . shall complain of the possession, control, use, giving away, or sale of marijuana . . . to any other authority except the Ypsilanti City attorney. . . " Ypsilanti's ordinance similar to Ann Arbor's City Charter provision, imposes a maximum fine of $5 on the use of marijuana." There have yet been no prosecutions under the city ordinance, and police are apparently determined to make the Gray arrest a test case. Police Chief Herbert Smith said the decision to charge Gray under the Michigan statute rather than the city ordinance was made after conferences with the county prosecutor's office. Smith noted that Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Lynwood Noah, after researching the question, advised police that state law preempts any city law when the two are in conflict. "That's the decision and that's what we will be going on," Smith declared. City Attorney Kenneth Bronson pointed out that the city ordinance provides for no criminal penalties if police choose to ignore the directive to prosecute marijuana cases under local law. Bronson said that challenge "comes as no big surprise" to me. But I've got to fend this ordinance . . . Whether it is distasteful or not is irrelevant." He added, I'm not a cop. I'm not going to do anything on this until the city manager tells me to do something ... I would imagine, however, that this is going to be number one on the ulcer list after the budget." Gray appeared Thursday before Ypsilanti District Judge Thomas F. Shea, but arraignment was adjourned until May 23.