Although medical marijuana is now legal in the state of Michigan, voters remain narrowly divided as to whether they would like to see recreational pot. A recent poll conducted by a Lansing-based research firm showed that 50% of likely Michigan voters would support the full legalization of marijuana for adults 21 and up. The trend is on the upward swing for Michigan voters, as a similar poll just a year ago showed support at 47 percent.
The survey was commissioned by the Michigan Chapter of NORML and was conducted gathered a sample set of 600 likely Michigan voters. Although 50% may sound like the issue is still on the fence, only 46% of respondents opposed the legalization of marijuana, with 4% left undecided.
Matthew Abel, Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of NORMl, says “Once people understand the effect that it’s had and analyze the statistics, they generally agree it’s a net win for society. Everybody knows you can get marijuana anywhere, so it’s time that we remove the taint of prohibition and the ill effects.”
Medical marijuana was legalized in Michigan back in 2008 and since then many communities and municipalities have decriminalized simple possession charges. As we head towards 2016 it has yet to be determined wether Michigan will vote on a ballot initiative. Metro areas and young voters overwhelmingly support marijuana legalization with the 18 to 34 year old demographic at 69% approval. The road to full legalization is still a long one for Michigan, which will rely heavily on these supporters.
Marijuana advocates in Michigan are working to improve local marijuana laws while taking slow and steady strides towards legalization. In the last two years, voters from seven different cities within the state have approved measures decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults. This year, there were initiatives pushed in eighteen more cities. Two cities already approved the measure in August, and a spot has been secured on the ballot in November for eleven more cities.
Michigan has never seen an election day with this many marijuana propositions on the ballots. According to WKAR Michigan Public Radio Network, members of the pro-marijuana team, Safer Michigan Coalition, have been working diligently to improve local marijuana laws with only a minimal budget for marketing and promotion. Charles Ream, Executive Direct of Safer Michigan Coalition, told WKAR that he is confident that all initiatives will be passed by voters despite the lack of campaign funds.
Ream explained that, although it would be ideal, he does not anticipate being able to push for an amendment legalizing the retail sale of marijuana to be on the ballot, state-wide, in 2016 because the coalition does not have the campaign funding to do so. However, if the team is able to obtain funding soon, he will gladly lead the initiative.
The ballot measures will legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults aged twenty-one years or older. This only applies to possession when on private property, and it will only be valid within approved city limits. Marijuana will remain illegal on a state and federal level. This measure will be on ballots in all of the following Michigan municipalities:
- Port Huron
- Mt. Pleasant
- Frankfort/Benzie County
- Huntington Woods
- Pleasant Ridge
This list of cities covers all types of ground. Some areas are urban, others rural and the list includes middle class suburbs. This diversity demonstrates that marijuana use is not concentrated to one specific group, it seems to be dispersed equally among all types of people and living situations.
photo credit: sean_emmett