Police Target Marijuana Legalization Supporter in Michigan Town, November Ballot Measure May Be Invalidated

"Bullying" says backer



Over the summer, twenty five year old Andrew Cissell gathered the petitions to get an ordinance legalizing marijuana on the ballot in Ferndale, Michigan in November. The measure would legalize the possession, transfer, or use of marijuana of up to an ounce on private property by anyone over the age of 21. Now, though the ballots have already been printed, the results may not be accepted by authorities—Cissell was arrested on "marijuana delivery" charges, with multiple homes in nearby Oak Park and Ferndale raided. The city clerk now says she doesn't know whether Cissell lived in Ferndale when he collected the petitions.

The measure has been opposed by almost the entire city council, who met to consider the ordinance, which was then still scheduled for a November vote, in August. At that meeting, the city attorney to object to the use of the term "private property" because it could mean the sale of marijuana in bars or, seriously, day care centers. The schools superintendent came out at the council meeting to oppose the measure too, for the children. It could "indirectly" affect students, the superintendent claimed as he explained he'd never before in his 14 years in the position taken a stance on a local political issue.

The town's police chief, meanwhile, insisted that his department had never arrested someone 21 or older for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana in his home. The county narcotics team sent an informant to make three marijuana purchases from Cissell, who is licensed as a medical marijuana user and care-giver. Authorities say he had too much weed.

Tim Beck of the Safer Michigan Coalition, which backed the Ferndale measure (and similar ones in Lansing and Jackson), called the police targeting of Cissell "bullying" that wouldn't' have happened had Cissell not been involved in legalization efforts. Cissell had been considering running for state representative next year.