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Local law enforcement, prosecutors condemn recreational marijuana

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- Michigan prosecutors and law enforcement officers are condemning marijuana legalization in Michigan.

In November, Michigan voters will decide whether to legalize recreational weed, but local officials are concerned about the public’s safety if the ballot passes.

All over the state and in Berrien County, local law enforcement, prosecutors and citizens united to educate voters to vote no to recreational marijuana in November.

“Recreational marijuana is just bad for Michigan,” Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz said.

“It’s an extremely important topic, and it’s one that will change Michigan forever, and we feel that it will be for the worse,” said Fitz.

The people joining at the conference claim that the safety of Michigan’s children and roadways, and quality of the state’s workplaces and healthcare system will be negatively impacted.

But many people including Josh Hovey, a spokesman with the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, says that positive outcomes can result from the legalization and taxation of the drug.

“It’s clear to me that law enforcement is using a lot of fear and scare tactics, rather than looking at what is reality,” said Hovey.

Presenters Wednesday afternoon used findings from states, like Colorado,  that have already legalized the recreational use as a drug to validate potential negative consequences.

“Homelessness is up 5 percent, violent crime is up 12.5 percent,” Fitz said explaining statistics from Colorado’s experience.

The group also raised their concerns with the ballot proposal, such as the proposed allowance ounce. Officials say it is ten times the amount of the standard allowance ounce in other states.

“Our recreational marijuana will be on steroids. We will be the magnet of the nation,” Fitz said.

Officials expressed that children are their main concern with the ballot.

“Why would we want to interject into our society in Michigan, another mind altering substance that’s going to be prevalent?” Berrien County Prosecutor Mike Sepic questioned.

But Hovey claims that if regulated, children in the state would not be greatly impacted.

“There is no indication whatsoever that adolescent use increases in states that have legalized,” he said.

“You’re going to see more efficient use of law enforcement resources, hundreds of millions of dollars generated in new taxes for fixing Michigan’s roads for our schools, the local governments,” Hovey explained the differing side to legalization.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol sent a statement to ABC57 News.

“We encourage an open and honest debate on this important issue. Unfortunately, that’s not what we see from some who have chosen to confuse the public with dubious or contested statistics rather than discuss facts,” said spokesperson John Truscott.

“This is bad for Michigan it is bad for our kids, it’s bad for those who are driving on our roadways and it’s bad for business,” said Fitz.

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