It's looking more and more likely that the residents of Michigan will be able to vote on whether or not to legalize recreational cannabis use in their state next year, thanks to the efforts of the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA). The cannabis advocacy group reports that they have collected over 360,000 signatures on a petition to place a legalization measure onto the state's 2018 general election ballot.
The CRMLA finished collecting the signatures last week, exceeding the minimum of 252,523 needed to place a measure on an election ballot. The organization will present the petition to state officials today, after which they will hold a press conference to discuss the legalization effort. However, the inclusion of the ballot measure is still not guaranteed, even though enough signatures have been collected. In 2016, MILegalize collected 350,000 signatures to place a legalization measure on that year's ballot, but a legal challenge disqualified so many signatures that the measure did not make it to the polls.
"Collecting enough signatures to get on the ballot is always a massive undertaking and we're thrilled to have gathered more than 100,000 signatures beyond the 252,000 required by the state," Josh Hovey, spokesperson for CRMLA, said in a statement. "Just like with alcohol, marijuana prohibition has been a huge failure. Instead of wasting law enforcement resources on a substance that is proven to be less harmful than either alcohol or tobacco, our initiative creates a tightly regulated system that will generate significant revenue for the state that will help fund our roads, public schools, and local governments – three of Michigan's most underfunded needs."
The measure would legalize recreational use for anyone 21 and over, allowing adults to possess 2.5 ounces in public and 10 ounces at home. The measure would establish taxes for cannabis sales, which would fund school and educational funding, road and bridge repairs, and medical cannabis research for veterans. The measure would also legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp. Like Massachusetts and Colorado, individual municipalities would be allowed to "opt out" of allowing canna-businesses in their areas, but local governments that choose to do so will not receive their share of cannabis sales tax revenue.
Support for cannabis reform in Michigan has been building steadily this year. Last week, five leading candidates for governor held a public forum to discuss their support for recreational legalization. On this year's election day, voters in Detroit approved two ballot measures to undo the City Council's tough new restrictions on medical cannabis dispensaries. Voters in Oakland County also approved ballot measures that forbid local police from seizing homes, businesses, cash, or assets of any individual who is suspected of drug offenses but not officially convicted.