Q. As I walked past Liberty Plaza recently I noticed a pungent smell of marijuana that seemed to emanate from a group of guys gathered at the back of the park. Of course pot is now legal in Michigan, but the city bans smoking and drinking in parks. What about marijuana?

A. Smoking of any type is prohibited in city parks, Sgt. Corey Mills emails. “AAPD does a lot of community outreach at Liberty Plaza, but when officers are not there we do get calls from time to time about people smoking.”

It is tough to determine how frequently this occurs. Complaints about marijuana smoking are grouped with other “disorderly persons” complaints and seldom result in legal action.

“Most officers take the stand that issuing a citation/fine to someone who does not have the means to pay is counterproductive in most cases and doesn’t solve the issue long-term,” Mills explains. “If there is a repeated problem with certain individuals, the officers may issue a trespass notice banning them from the park for up to a year.”

“Most of the officers who do outreach at Liberty Plaza are familiar with the mental health or social service needs of the people who frequent the park,” he adds in a follow-up email. AAPD’s partnerships with Community Mental Health, Avalon Housing, and the county’s Project Outreach Team (PORT) “allow their clients to have positive outcomes [rather] than criminal fines and penalties.

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