It all came to a head in July 1969 when poet John Sinclair received 10 years for giving two marijuana joints to an undercover Detroit cop, which earned him a spot at the state penitentiary in Jackson, Michigan. Planned by Sinclair from prison, the resulting John Sinclair Freedom Rally in December 1971 at Ann Arbor's Crisler Arena included John Lennon, Stevie Wonder, and Allen Ginsberg, among others, and directly led to the release of Sinclair just three days later.
The following year, the Ann Arbor city council passed a bill that decriminalized marijuana possession down to a $5 civil ticket for up to two ounces.
In 1973, the ordinance was repealed by the city council, but voters stepped in on April 2, 1974 to uphold the $5 ticket and to prevent local authorities from making arrests under punitive Michigan marijuana laws.
In 1983, Ann Arbor voters rejected a proposed repeal of the $5 civil charge, but a 1990 referendum upped the ticket to $25, $50 and $100 for successive infractions, though it remained a civil offense.
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By 2008, Ann Arbor and Michigan marijuana laws were up for their biggest change yet when voters passed the Michigan Compassionate Care Initiative by well over a million votes, 63 percent to 37 percent. The law legalized medical marijuana across the state for terminally and seriously ill patients with a doctor's recommendation. It also included provisions for medical patients to grow their own marijuana and established the medical marijuana ID card system that exists today in the state.
On November 6, 2018, Michigan voters passed Proposal 1 with 56 percent of the vote, which allows adults 21 and older to possess up to two and a half ounces of marijuana in public, 10 ounces at home, and allows for the cultivation of up to 12 cannabis plants. Called the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, it made Michigan the tenth state in the U.S. and the first in the Midwest to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Paradoxically, however, there remain scant ways to obtain legal marijuana as no recreational dispensaries exist in the state -- the first are expected to open in 2020.