KALAMAZOO — A local marijuana reform group will begin collecting signatures this week seeking support to soften pot laws in the city of Kalamazoo.
The Kalamazoo Coalition for Pragmatic Cannabis Laws wants to amend the city charter to state that the possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana by those 21 and older should be “the lowest possible priority” for law enforcement.
If approved by voters, Kalamazoo would become the first city in Michigan with such a law.
The coalition must collect 2,765 signatures of registered voters in the city — 5 percent of registered voters — by Aug. 10 to get the issue before voters in the November general election.
According to state law, the petition language does not have to be approved by the city, said City Clerk Scott Borling.
“As far as we’re concerned, they can go ahead and begin collecting signatures,” he said.
Louis Stocking, of Kalamazoo, is spearheading the petition drive. He said he believes the coalition will easily gather the required number of signatures, likely by July.
“We’ll definitely get enough,” he said. “That won’t be an issue.”
Once the signatures have been collected, Stocking said the coalition will begin a marketing campaign to sell the issue and educate the public on what it means.
The campaign will be financed with private donations and a possible grant from the Marijuana Policy Project, a nationwide marijuana law reform group founded in 1995.
“We need to get the word out and let people know what they’re voting on,” Stocking said. “This issue isn’t about legalizing marijuana in Kalamazoo. We need to educate the public before they vote.”
By Chris Killian