Despite the uphill battle it’s been for cannabis legalization in Michigan, good news looms on the not-so-distant horizon. Not only does it look promising that the petitions currently circulating will generate more than enough signatures for the proposal to make recreational cannabis legal, Michigan residents also might have the privilege to possess larger quantities of it than any other state.
What’s Normal in Other States?
In the United States, there are 8 states in which cannabis is legal for recreational use. The normal amount individuals are allowed to carry is 1 ounce. According to Mark Kleiman, a professor at NYU and expert on public policy in regards to cannabis, the cap of 1 ounce is sufficient. Michigan, however, would join the likes of Maine, where individuals are allowed to carry up to 2.5 ounces on their person.
The other way in which Michigan will stand out is that persons 21 and over will also be able to have up to 10 ounces of cannabis at home. While this is also true in Massachusetts, the limit for the amount of cannabis individuals can carry there is only 1 ounce.
Defending the seemingly large quantity of cannabis that Michigan residents would be allowed to carry, Josh Hovey, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, stated there are legitimate reasons behind it. For example, a commonality many Michiganders have is travel within the state. For those who have cabins or other properties where they will spend lengths of time for hunting or recreation, it seems fair to Hovey that those individuals should be able to carry an amount of cannabis that will sustain them.
Still, there are other opponents. Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that advocates against cannabis, strongly opposes the amount that Michigan residents could carry. Executive VP and director of government relations for the group, Jeffrey Zinsmeister, contends that there’s no good reason anyone would need to carry 2.5 ounces of cannabis for personal use. The amount, he argues, is excessive.
Standing Strong Against Opposition
Despite criticism, Hovey insists that all components of the law were heavily considered, taking into account the input from those who would be involved in Michigan’s cannabis industry. From stakeholders in the cannabis business, organizations involved in the movement, and Michigan voters, Hovey is confident that their input, combined with observing the best practices from other states with legal cannabis, has yielded an initiative that stands a strong chance of becoming law.
Backing up his confidence is the swift rate at which the petition to legalize cannabis in Michigan is acquiring signatures. Having nearly reached the halfway mark of the required amount of signatures needed to get on the 2018 ballot in just two months, the odds of legalization look promising. Registered voters still have almost 4 months left to sign the petition if they haven’t already. At this point, the momentum is still building so it will almost certainly be in the affirmative that voters will approve the legislation being presented.
In Washington, Sam Mendez, an attorney with C3 Law Group (specializing in cannabis law), supports the notion that legalization leads to fewer arrests, lifting a weight off law enforcement. He also points out that other substances that are more dangerous than cannabis, such as alcohol, have no limits regarding how much an individual can possess. Needless to say, his statements fall in line with supporting the limits established in the initiative that Hovey is certain will attain the approval of voters.
Even though on the federal level cannabis remains illegal and the DEA classifies it a schedule 1 drug, if Michigan votes to legalize cannabis, they will join the ranks of states taking a stand against prohibition, furthering the national legalization movement.
This post was originally published on August 4, 2017, it was updated on October 5, 2017.