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Students voice confusion about local, state marijuana laws

November 16, 2016
<p>An anonymous student grinds down marijuana in preparation to smoke it. Nearby, a pipe and smoking papers.</p>

An anonymous student grinds down marijuana in preparation to smoke it. Nearby, a pipe and smoking papers.

Photo by Julia Nagy | The State News

On May 5, 2015, voters in the City of East Lansing approved a Marijuana Decriminalization Charter Amendment that decriminalized the use of marijuana. Last month, the East Lansing City Council also passed an ordinance decriminalizing marijuana. Despite the new ordinance set forth, some MSU students do not fully comprehend what was approved.

The ordinance allows people over the age of 21-years-old to smoke marijuana as long as they are on private property and the amount of marijuana does not exceed an ounce.

Zoology senior Tammy Hunter said she had “no idea” of the decriminalization of marijuana in East Lansing.

Hunter said that East Lansing could have done a better job of spreading the news to the public.

“I didn’t even know that was going around,” said Hunter. “I mean, it’s a college campus so it makes since (to inform the public more) ... ”

Business-preference freshman Brendan Kubert also was unaware of the new ordinance as he thought he only pertained to only medical use.

Kubert said that a way East Lansing could have informed more of the public would have been to sent out letters, broadcast the news more on television and publish additional ordinance information online.

Hospitality business senior Rachel Amey said she just recently discussed the decriminalization of marijuana, but said she didn’t know the exact amount that a person can legally possess.

“I don’t know the actual gram, but you can like possess a certain amount of marijuana if you’re over the age of 21, so it’s basically the same as like the alcohol -- legal age for alcohol,” Amey said. “I don’t know what that amount is though.”

East Lansing police Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth said there has been plenty of news covering this topic and sees no additional announcements or statements from ELPD as necessary. 

“I think it’s known out there,” said Wriggelsworth. “I don’t know that every student knows that it’s no longer criminal and knows all the nooks and crannies of the new law, but I don’t think that the police department plans on, I guess, publicizing, putting it on social media or anything like that. I mean, when laws are changed, we do our best to try to get that information out there ... but I don’t think we have any plans in the police department to, I guess, announce and/or publicize that the possession of marijuana is now decriminalized because that’s pretty much already been done.”

Because of the decriminalization of marijuana, East Lansing police have seen a drastic drop in narcotic cases in their precinct.

Wriggelsworth said that in 2011 there were 139 narcotics incidents while in 2015, there were just 52.

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