GRASS LAKE — State Reps. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) will host a citizen town hall event in Jackson County on Aug. 14 to hear about drug enforcement strategies and policy. It will take place from 5-7 p.m. at the Grass Lake Township Hall, located at 373 Lakeside Drive. Also attending will be former prosecutor Jim Gierach from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). The town hall is free and open to the public.

Earlier this year, Irwin introduced House Bill 4623 to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The bill would make possession of one ounce or less a civil infraction. Under current law, possession is classified as a misdemeanor with heavy fines and jail time. Shirkey is a co-sponsor of the bill.

“Michigan spends an estimated $326 million a year on arresting, trying and imprisoning people for marijuana offenses,” said Irwin, “yet such policies have proven remarkably ineffective in achieving their purpose of preventing marijuana use.”

According to a recent poll from the Pew Research Center, 72 percent of Americans believe enforcing current marijuana laws costs more than it’s worth.

“Communities across the state are recognizing this and have passed local ordinances decriminalizing marijuana or have voted to treat marijuana possession as the lowest priority for local law enforcement. Now it’s time for Michigan to address this issue head on and I’m especially proud to seek out real solutions with my colleague across the aisle, Representative Shirkey,” said Irwin.

“Michigan citizens expect and demand that we strive to balance the needs of personal freedom, public safety, pain management and a host of other factors as we determine how to best spend the people’s tax dollars,” said Shirkey. “Much as we did with the failed prohibition of alcohol, I feel we have reached a crossroads where we need to readdress how the state will enforce some aspects of marijuana law, especially for adult use. It is abundantly clear that the status quo regarding our laws and recreational adult use needs to be robustly analyzed, debated, and changed where prudent.”