Matthew Abel is hoping this week will mark history.
He is part of a coalition of organizations that helped write the language for the proposed legislation the board of canvassers will consider on Thursday.
This is the closest recreational marijuana has come to being brought to Michigan voters and the closest the state has ever been to joining the eight other states that already have it legalized.
The coalition was required to turn in 252,523 valid signatures from registered voters, but they presented more than 300,000, which is expected to qualify the proposal for a November bid.
Potentially on the November ballot is a law that would, like alcohol, authorize adults, 21 and older, to use and transfer the substance, allow carrying and use of 2.5 ounces at a time, allow for use in private areas, with owner authorization, but prohibit use in public areas like restaurants, shopping centers.
But even if it pushes forward to the ballot, it won’t come without its fair share of debate.
Some point out the jobs and tax revenues it would create, but Abel says it’s more about social justice.
“It gives a lot of people criminal records which prevents them from college loans, employment in many industries,” he said.
And, he added he believes it’s a safer choice for easing stress or pain.
“Marijuana substitutes for more other more harmful substances, for alcohol, especially these days for opiates,” he argued.
But Matthew Yascolt, of Healthy and Productive Michigan, argues it’s just the opposite, saying it’s a gateway drug.
“Heroin addicts don’t just wake up and decide to start using heroin one day. They always progress to it.”
On top of that, Yascolt, and several other opposition organizations, worry about the safety of less researched products, like edibles, that could have an unknown amount of THC, with more dangerous side effects.
“We’re looking at marijuana that’s highly synthetic,” he said.
It’s an example of the debate that will play out in the coming months.
A more formal debate between The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol and Healthy and Productive Michigan is slated to take place this Thursday at the Pontiac Country Club, 7pm-9pm
For more details, contact the country club.