Voters in Michigan have the chance in November to decide if their state will join the ranks of those that have legalized recreational marijuana. If passed, Michigan would join Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia in allowing recreational marijuana sales.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol spearheaded the effort to get the referendum on the ballot. It was the group’s second attempt. In the first, they got the required 360,000 signatures but not within the 180-day window mandated by state law. This time, they got it done in the right amount of time to qualify for the Michigan ballot.
“Now, we’ll be out and about talking to people and educating them about the issues,” coalition director John Truscott told the Detroit Free-Press.
The Michigan marijuana ballot measure, if passed, would:
• Legalize possession and sale of up to two and half ounces of marijuana
• Allow state residents to keep up to 10 ounces of marijuana at home
• Allow communities in Michigan to decide if they want to allow cannabis businesses
• Award permits to cannabis growers at three different levels: 100, 500 and 2,000 plants
• Impose a state excise tax on cannabis sales at the retail level
• Impose a 6 percent sales tax
• Funnel marijuana tax dollars into K-12 education, roads, cities and counties that allow marijuana businesses
The state expects to generate $100 million annually in marijuana taxes. The state’s legal medical marijuana industry was approved by voters in 2008 by a wide margin.
The coming debate
Michigan would be the first state in the Midwest to legalize recreational marijuana. A poll released earlier this year found that about 61 percent of Michigan voters favor legalization. Politics beyond the debate over marijuana legalization could play a role on the Michigan marijuana ballot issue.
According to multiple media sources in Michigan, state Republicans are concerned that having marijuana on the ballot could increase turnout for the Nov. 6 election. With more Democrats favoring legalization, that could spell trouble for Republican candidates, including gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette.
Some have even gone as far as to speculate that Republican legislators could pass a law legalizing recreational marijuana before the election to keep it off the Michigan ballot.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol plans to launch a new found of fundraising to support the ballot measure as much of its money was spent hiring a consultant to manage getting the signatures, according to the Free-Press.