By Steve Elliott
State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) on Wednesday introduced a bill that would make the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana a civil infraction punishable by a fine, rather than a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.
"We know, and the people here in Michigan know, that marijuana prohibition is not working," Irwin said during a press conference at the Capitol, reports Jonathan Oosting at Mlive.com.
"Despite the fact that we're spending a minimum of $325 million a year on arresting, trying and incarcerating marijuana users in this state, we know marijuana has never been more available," Irwin said. "We know that law enforcement has not been successful at keeping marijuana out of the hands of anyone in the state."
Irwin has at least two Republican cosponsors for the bill; joining him at a press conference were Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon), Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and Rep. Mike Callton (R-Nashville).
"This is the right time to have this debate in Michigan," Rep. Shirkey said. "We're using a lot of money, energy and resources in Michigan and across the nation to accomplish something we've failed at.