State Rep. Jeff Irwin to introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

Feb 11, 2013

State Representative Jeff Irwin says it's high time to decriminalize marijuana for recreational use in Michigan.

The Ann Arbor Democrat plans to introduce a bill in the state House of Representatives that would lessen the penalty for using marijuana recreationally. He says the state wastes hundreds of millions of dollars by "running marijuana users through the court system and doing so at great cost to our state and at great cost to those individuals and their futures."

Irwin says many legislators are privately supportive of decriminalization, but may shy away from supporting a proposal publicly. Still he says public opinion may change their minds.

A poll released last year by the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ showed Michigan voters were about evenly split on legalizing recreational marijuana.

Pot is already decriminalized in several cities including in Detroit and Grand Rapids.

"(We must) take those policies that are already governing a good percentage of people in Michigan, and are working just fine, and apply those polices statewide," Irwin said. "And by doing so, we will free up a lot of law enforcement resources."

-- Joseph Lichterman, Michigan Radio Newsroom