With an established medical marijuana industry already on the books, Michigan’s cannabis advocates have their eyes set on loftier goals for 2018’s midterm election with a well-funded, diversely-backed campaign for full adult recreational cannabis legalization kicking off in the coming weeks.
According to a report from the Detroit Free Press, Michigan cannabis activists held a rally at the state capitol building in Lansing today as a precursor for the year and a half long legalization effort. State lawmakers have introduced a preliminary proposal and local advocates are expected to begin collecting signatures for necessary petitions by the end of the month.
“We’re right on the precipice of being ready to launch this thing. It’s going to be very, very soon,” Jeff Irwin, political director for the Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, told the Free Press.
The legalization language hasn’t been finalized yet, but preliminary drafts would create a taxed and regulated retail system for recreational weed, with adults 21 and older able to purchase 2.5 ounces of cannabis at a time, grow their own at home allow local municipalities to make their own rules about the sale and distribution of the legal weed.
In addition to the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the cannabis advocacy group MI Legalize and the Michigan chapter of NORML have both pledged support for the proposed legalization plan. Outside of the Great Lakes State, the D.C. based Marijuana Policy Project has signed on to add their expertise and funding to push the legalization effort.
If the issue is going to make it onto next year’s ballot, legalization advocates will need to collect at least 252,523 signatures from valid Michigan voters within a span of 180 days. With millions of dollars in projected funding, legalization supporters are confident they will be able to get the signatures and move forward with their plan.
As is to be expected, local law enforcement officials have already spoken out in opposition to the proposed legalization effort.
“There’s no good that I can see that will come out of this,” Blaine Koops, executive director of the Michigan Sheriff’s Association, said. “One of the problems we have is that there’s no way to measure the level of intoxication from this drug. And an increase in criminal behavior in all likelihood will occur.”
Of course, Koops failed to offer any evidence for his claims of “increased criminal behavior.”
For Irwin and the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the benefits of legal cannabis far outweigh the possible downsides, and as for Koops’ claims of a rise in crime, Irwin is confident that Michiganders have the ability to use cannabis responsibly, just like the vast majority of adults around the world.
“Most adults can use alcohol occasionally and responsibly.” Irwin said. “We should have the same approach for marijuana, and the fact that we don’t has been a longstanding and costly failure."
If you’re in Michigan, look for legalization petitions to start popping up in the next month, and keep your eyes locked on MERRY JANE for more news on the push for legalization in the Midwest and across the world.