The Michigan Board of State Canvassers has approved a proposed ballot effort that would legalize cannabis within the state. The measure, proposed by Abrogate Prohibition Michigan of Midland, would change the state constitution to nullify all laws prohibiting or regulating cannabis, and prevent the state from levying any fines, penalties, or taxes on cannabis use. The measure would allow the state to tax and regulate cannabis sales, but would not require any such legislation.
"I call it the Second Amendment of cannabis," sponsor Timothy Locke said. The board voted unanimously to allow Locke to begin petitioning to get the measure onto next year's ballot. Because he is proposing a constitutional amendment, Locke must collect 315,654 signatures. Another pro-cannabis proposal, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, only requires 252,523 signatures because it would only change state laws. This petition has already collected over 100,000 signatures.
Locke, a laborer who has used cannabis to treat chronic back pain for decades, said that his proposal would boost Michigan's economy by generating new business. Locke said that his proposal would also be retroactive to around 1970, when cannabis was criminalized on the state level. This would allow anyone imprisoned solely for state marijuana offenses to be released from prison and have their criminal records expunged. However, the amendment would not help anyone arrested on federal drug charges.
Josh Hovey, spokesman of the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, said that his organization “just can't imagine Michigan voters supporting” Locke's proposal. "The public expects responsible marijuana regulation that includes licensing, quality control and assurances that minors will not be able to access it."
Locke said that he will operate his campaign in a grassroots fashion, without paid signature collectors, and will begin collecting signatures next week.