Prosecutor sees pot legalization causing residual problems

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

Antrim County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Rossiter believes that use of recreational marijuana, which becomes legal on Thursday, Dec. 6, will eventually create a variety of social issues.


BELLAIRE – On Thursday, Dec. 6, recreational marijuana use will become legal in the state of Michigan. 

That's not something Antrim County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Rossiter is looking forward to, and certainly not a new law that will make his job, or that of anyone working in Michigan law enforcement, any easier, he says.

And he doesn't expect to see fewer inmates in the Antrim County Jail or to be making fewer trips into the court room.

At least a portion of the issues Rossiter believes Michigan's law enforcement and judicial system will face will be due to difficulties in prosecution of those facing illegal recreational marijuana possession charges.

"There's just too many gray areas," Rossiter, who has served as the county's prosecuting attorney for the last five years, said last week of the new statute approved by 58 percent of Michigan's voters on Nov. 6.

The 23-page statute, approved by a margin of just 130 votes in Antrim County, allows the personal possession and use of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older, cultivation and sale of marijuana and industrial hemp by persons 21 years of age or older, and taxation of revenue derived from commercial marijuana facilities.

It also allows for the "prescription of certain penalties for violations of this act."

"And that's about all it says," said Rossiter, noting that there are no defined penalties for those convicted of violations.

The law's failure to clearly and definitively address those issues, as well as many others, including at what level of THC a vehicle's driver is considered "under the influence" and in violation of state law, will require years of interaction between lawmakers and the courts, Rossiter said.

Tests to determine the level of intoxication that a driver is under don't currently exist, either, he said.

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