An effort to legalize marijuana in a Michigan town is in trouble after the arrest of a man behind the initiative. Andrew Cissell, a state-registered medical marijuana user and caregiver, is facing felony charges for selling pot following a police raid of three properties in Detroit suburbs Oak Park and Ferndale. Police say that Cissell, 25, was in possession of more marijuana than is legally permitted under Michigan’s state medical law. He is currently facing five counts of cannabis delivery.
Cissell went door-to-door in Ferndale this summer gathering signatures supporting pot legalization, turning in enough signed petitions to ensure the proposal’s inclusion on the ballot this Election Day. The proposal would amend city code to allow anyone 21 and older to “possess, use or transfer” up to an ounce of pot on private property. Cissell also said he planned to run for state representative for his district next year, and that he intended to make pot legalization a statewide issue.
In the wake of Cissell’s arrest, the initiative’s inclusion on the ballot is in question. Ferndale City Clerk Cherilynn Brown says the ballots have already been printed, but county election authorities and prosecutors are debating the issue, evidently depending on whether Cissell was a Ferndale resident when he circulated and filed the petitions. Ferndale police say that Cissell lived mainly in his Oak Park home, so the matter is somewhat hazy.
Michigan legalization supporters say Cissell’s arrest is disappointing but that it does not pose a setback to their cause. The Safer Michigan Coalition, which helped fund the petition campaign, has put identical proposals on ballots in Jackson and Lansing. It looks like it’s only a matter of time before Michigan voters approve legal pot statewide.