Last year, cannabis advocates in Michigan made a major push to get recreational legalization on the 2016 ballot. Although the MILegalize campaign had gathered enough signatures to qualify, their efforts were ultimately thwarted by the Michigan Court of Claims. According to Judge Stephen Borrello, a vast number of the signatures were invalid because they were collected outside of the 180-day period required by state law.
It was surely a bitter pill to swallow, but Michigan’s marijuana backers are gearing up to return to the legislative battlefield. MILegalize, the pro-cannabis group behind the proposal, claims to have both the financial and grassroots support needed to put recreational legalization on the ballot in 2018. This time around, the local organization is working with the Marijuana Policy Project to raise millions to help pay signature-gatherers.
As of now, the group is about a month into the 180-day deadline, and are required to obtain at least 252,523 registered voters to sign their name in support. The first campaign finance reports are due in July, and will offer a clearer view of how far along the group has gotten.
This initiative would allow residents aged 21 and over to possess, cultivate, and use cannabis legally, and create a licensing process akin to the system that Michigan uses for its medical marijuana program. As for retail, customers would be allowed to purchase up to 2.5 ounces at a time and keep up to 10 ounces in their homes.
Jeff Irwin, a former Democratic state representative and current political director of MILegalize, claims that the proposed measure would create between $100 million and $200 million in tax revenue. This money would be allotted to municipalities and counties, a school aid fund for K-12 education, and the Michigan transportation fund.
Still, regardless of how many signatures the group collects during this campaign period, they still expect opposition from public health officials and local law enforcement. For now, the goal of MILegalizae is to secure the question for a vote in 2018, leaving them to deal with dissenters once the ballot initiative is set in stone.