Oak Park — Voters here will have the opportunity on Aug. 5 to decide whether possession of marijuana for personal use should be legalized within the city’s borders.
Following a lawsuit filed by the Safer Oak Park Coalition, Oakland Circuit Judge Rae Lee Chabot ruled this week that the city of Oak Park should put a marijuana proposal on the Aug. 5 ballot which would permit persons 21 years or older to possess or transfer up to an ounce of marijuana on private property not accessible to the public.
Supporters stress the initiative is directed at home personal use only and does not permit marijuana use in public.
Oak Park officials previously argued that ballot language had to be approved by the State Attorney General’s Office. The City Council unanimously voted Monday to drop any objections to the ballot question.
“Marijuana legalization is a freedom and liberty issue, because it is about keeping the government out of every little aspect of our lives,” said Andrew Cissell, who is promoting the issue and is also a candidate for the state legislature.
Cissell, 26, was arrested in September after selling marijuana in Oak Park to an undercover police officer. Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team officers said Cissell was operating a grow operation at an Oak Park address where they seized 47 marijuana plants, two safes containing 838 grams of marijuana, and related equipment used to grow the herb.
“Andrew is a licensed patient and caregiver and we believe his arrest was not appropriate or lawful,” said Debra Young, a spokeswoman for the marijuana initiative group and also Cissell’s campaign manager.
Young said all the criminal charges are still pending in Oakland Circuit Court.
Cissell was sentenced to 18 months probation earlier this year for election law violations for circulating and gathering signatures for a similar successful marijuana initiative in Ferndale. The charges were brought because he was not a resident of the city at the time.
The Oak Park initiative is similar to ones adopted in seven other Michigan communities including Detroit.
Cissell is running in the August primary as a Democrat for the District 27 seat in the Michigan House of Representatives. The district includes Ferndale, Oak Park, Royal Oak Township, Berkley, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge.