Barely half of the people ticketed for cannabis possession are paying their citations. More than $100,000 in civil fine has gone uncollected since voters decriminalized marijuana, in reference to Grand Rapids District Court data. A few hundred offenders have not made a payment, prompting the court to contemplate enforcing non-response to citations as a misdemeanor crime.
“We are looking at this point in time at some statutory provisions that will allow us to take some additional enforcement,” stated Gary Secor, court administrator. “We don’t have any recourse (right now) on these municipal civil infractions for marijuana. If they don’t pay, they don’t pay.”
Grand Rapids voters back in 2012 decriminalized cannabis possession and use, making it a civil fine rather than a misdemeanor offense. Cannabis still remains illegal, however, it is no longer a criminal offense.
Rather, offenders get a $25 ticket for a first offense, $50 for a second offense and $100 for a third run in with the law. The district court usually collects close to 80% of civil fines for offenses such as housing code violations, barking dogs and fireworks, Secor stated. Yet, far less cannabis offenders pay up.
Currently this year, there are 261 unpaid cannabis tickets. That’s 10 times more than the civil citation, municipal housing code violation, with the next highest number of nonpayment.