Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers has given its stamp of approval on petition signatures gathered to put recreational cannabis on the November ballot.
It can be recalled that earlier this month, the elections bureau said that there were enough signatures collected and turned in, and that only the approval from the Board of State Canvassers was needed for the initiative to proceed. A group pushing for the legalization of adult-use cannabis submitted more than 365,000 signatures from registered voters. This is a lot more than the over 250,000 signatures needed.
With the board’s members unanimously voting in favor of the proposed legislation, it can now be on the ballot unless lawmakers would vote on it ahead of November, make a competing proposal, or reject it and propose an alternative.
Provisions of the recreational cannabis bill
If Michigan eventually legalizes recreational cannabis, it will become the 10th state in the country and the first in the Midwest to do so.
The legislation would allow individuals aged 21 and above to possess up to 71 grams of cannabis and to grow up to 12 marijuana plants at home. Moreover, a 10% tax on cannabis would be assessed on top of the existing 6% sales tax.
Analysts have suggested that if recreational cannabis is allowed in the state, sales could reach $1 billion a year.
It is proposed that cannabis tax revenues would be split as follows:
- 35% to roads
- 35% to education
- 30% to cities and counties with cannabis businesses
The proposal also provides that cities will be allowed to decide whether they will permit cannabis businesses.
It can be recalled that in 2008, Michigan voters had legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Back then, medical cannabis consumption passed by a wide margin as 63% of voters voted in favor of legalization.
Moreover, experts say that recreational cannabis on the ballot is likely going to up the voter turnout by 2% or 3%.
Opposition to the recreational cannabis legalization initiative
Scott Greenlee, the president of Healthy and Productive Michigan, which is a ballot committee opposing the legalization of recreational cannabis, had unsuccessfully urged the board to reject the initiative. He said that the proposal is “fundamentally flawed” because the federal law, which is “supreme,” prohibits the possession, the cultivation, and the distribution of cannabis.
Moreover, while legislature has the ability to enact the citizen-initiated proposal on its own, Rep. House Speaker Tom Leonard said that this is not expected to happen. According to him, there isn’t enough support in the caucus and that he doesn’t support it either.
Leonard believes this bill is something that voters are ultimately going to have to decide on for themselves.
Advocates are happy
According to reports, the unanimous 4-0 decision of the Board of Canvassers was met with cheers by the proposal’s advocates.
Rick Thompson of the Michigan chapter of NORML or National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said that the people of Michigan deserve and have earned this victory. According to him, they have faced a lot of trials and tribulations before getting to this point.
“We have had many stop and go signs from the U.S. federal government,” he said. “That’s why states need to take the reins with regard to the issue and be the crucibles of democracy.”
John Truscott, the spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, expressed his excitement that voters will finally have the chance to eliminate the state’s “outdated marijuana laws” this November. “Just as with alcohol, prohibition clearly does not work and that taxation and regulation is a far better solution.”
This was the second time that the group had gathered enough signatures to get on the ballot. However, during the first time, it was not able to get the signatures within a state-mandated 180-day window, so the petition was eventually thrown out.