After the let down of 2016, when the proposal to legalize recreational cannabis in Michigan failed to make it on the ballot, the petition drive this time around is off to a strong start. Organized and ready to work hard, people are coming together to get a proposal on the ballot in 2018.
Already Over 100,000 Signatures
In under seven weeks, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is more than thrilled to report having already collected over 100,000 signatures. Needing only 252,523 valid signatures to get their proposal on the ballot in November 2018, they are well on their way to achieving their goal. When the ballot wording was approved, 180 days were allotted to circulate petitions and collect signatures. With a deadline of November 22, 2017, the chances of a proposal making the ballot are more than promising.
When the announcement was made in May 2017 that the wording of their ballot proposal was approved, Josh Hovey, a spokesperson for the group, announced: “We’ve got petitions printed. We’re ready to go.” The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol was clearly ready for the next step. Certain they will obtain far more signatures than are required, they hope to turn in a completed petition in October 2017, one full month before the deadline.
Collecting more than enough signatures is key for the group. With the last go-around, an unforeseen circumstance arose in the form of new legislation, limiting the period of time for signature collecting to 180 days. Governor Snyder’s decision dealt a defeating blow to MI Legalize, who’d already collected enough signatures to get their proposal on the ballot. Unfortunately, with the new law taking immediate effect, only about half of the signatures they’d collected counted. Left without time or the signatures they needed, MI Legalize’s efforts didn’t pay off.
Their other concern in regards to collecting signatures is how many of them won’t count; if handwriting is illegible or information provided doesn’t match voter regz vcistration information, the signatures aren’t considered valid.
If the Proposal Makes the Ballot
The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act is the second attempt in just a couple of years to legalize recreational cannabis in Michigan. If successful, persons 21 and over will be allowed to possess, use, cultivate, and sell recreational cannabis.
The intention behind the act is simple: stop arrests related to cannabis use, make commercial production and distribution legal, and use the tax money generated from sales for the better good. In Michigan, there’s no telling where the tax money would be most beneficially used. With crumbling roads and a police force uncertain of their pensions, the money generated by taxing cannabis sales could provide much-needed relief.
Despite opposition from the group Keep Pot out of Neighborhoods and Schools, the language of the petition was unanimously approved 4-0 by the State Board of Canvassers. Gary Gordon, the attorney who represents the group, said he doesn’t feel the language of the proposal is clear and that the wording is contradictory in regards to who will and who won’t be taxed. In particular, he takes issue with the fact that individuals 21 and over would be allowed to grow up to 12 plants for personal use without being taxed. Compared to the enormous impact the cannabis industry would have on the economy and the tax revenue it would generate, there is little ground for them to stand on.
Four Months and Counting
With the summer months in Michigan more than ideal for spending time outdoors, those collecting signatures are taking full advantage of festivities and events where large numbers of people will undeniably yield support for the proposal. As of March 2016, Michigan already had over 180,000 people registered to use cannabis medicinally. Consider, then, the number of registered caregivers, friends, family members, and recreational cannabis users unaccounted for who will no doubt be signing this petition as it makes its way across the state. With four months left to gather signatures and 100,000 already collected in under two months, the proposal looks so far to stand an excellent shot at making it on the ballot in 2018 and allowing voters to finally have their say on the matter.