Some opponents to medical marijuana use feared it would be a watershed issue, paving the way for the decriminalization of other drugs or relaxing the enforcement of drug offenses. In Detroit, that prediction may become a reality, at least if voters get their way.

Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a ruling requiring the city of Detroit to allow a referendum decriminalizing marijuana possession -- of up to once ounce -- to be on the voting ballot this fall. The decision marks the end of a two-year legal battle.

Volunteers in Detroit had collected more than 6,000 signatures in an attempt to put the issue before voters in 2010, but the Detroit Election Commission rejected the proposal for a simple reason: marijuana possession for non-medical use is prohibited by state law. The Coalition for a Safer Detroit, a leading proponent behind the decriminalization effort, sued. The Michigan Court of Appeals agreed that the city of Detroit had a legal duty to place the referendum on the ballot. Now that the appeals process is exhausted, Detroit residents may be voting on the issue in the fall.

According to one organizer, people in Detroit are frustrated by the way the criminal justice system has functioned. Many residents believe local police waste efforts and resources in enforcing marijuana prohibitions, at the expense of dealing with more serious crimes. Local Police Chief Ralph Godbee disagrees, stating that substance abuse in the inner city has had devastating effects. Godbee also believes that a city ordinance cannot trump state and federal laws prohibiting the drug.

If you have been charged with drug possession, you are likely facing severe criminal penalties, including jail time. At a time like that, you need an attorney by your side that can review the charges and evidence against you and determine if there is sufficient evidence to prove the allegations.

An attorney can also advise you on any available defenses. For example, enforcement officials may have violated certain procedural protections in their initial contact with you, in their search of you or your property, and in explaining your rights to you. An attorney will help you prepare your best defense.

Source: MLive, "Detroit police chief 'fundamentally opposed' to ballot proposal that would legalize marijuana," Jonathan Oosting, June 4, 2012