Michigan election officials certified the validity of the more than 250,000 signatures in support of a petition to place cannabis legalization on the ballot this November.
The Board of State Canvassers on Thursday voted 4-0 to allow the iniative to move forward.
“With polls showing nearly 60 percent of Michigan voters supporting legalization, it’s clear that the public is way ahead of the politicians on this issue,” Jeffrey Hank, executive director of MILegalize, said in a press release. “The people are tired of the failed policies of the past and understand that creating reasonable, responsible regulations is the way forward to tens of thousands of new jobs and opportunities in Michigan. This November the people will make their voice heard!”
Michigan could become the first state in the Midwest with an adult-use cannabis law and the 1oth state in the nation. The ballot proposal would:
- Legalize the possession and sale of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for recreational use.
- Impose a 10 percent excise tax on marijuana sales at the retail level as well as a 6 percent sales tax. The tax revenues are expected to be more than $100 million.
- The revenues will go to K-12 education (35 percent) roads (35 percent), Communities that allow marijuana businesses (15 percent) and counties where marijuana business are located (15 percent).
- Allow communities to determine permitting procedures.
- Individuals would be allowed to possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis in their domicile.
“This November, Michigan voters will have the opportunity to replace the failed policy of marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation,” said Matthew Schweich, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “With the certification process complete, we can now turn our attention to educating voters about why approving this initiative is a sensible public policy decision that serves the interests of the people of Michigan.”
The initiative is being certified at a time when national attention is focused on marijuana policy reform. Earlier this month, President Trump reiterated his position in favor of not interfering with state marijuana policies in a conversation with Sen. Cory Gardner and assured him that the Department of Justice would not target individuals and businesses that are in compliance with state marijuana laws.
“Congress is poised to effectively end federal marijuana prohibition this year or next, but states such as Michigan will still need to enact laws that dictate how marijuana will be regulated,” added Schweich. “Federal reform would not negate the need for this Michigan ballot initiative.”
Marijuana is currently legal for adults in nine states and the District of Columbia. Eight states have enacted laws legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use, and marijuana possession and limited home cultivation are legal in Vermont and the District of Columbia. More than 20 states are considering bills to make marijuana legal for adults this year.
Scott Greenlee, executive director of an anti-cannabis political action committee, fought to keep the issue off the ballot because the federal government still considers it an illegal substance. “By putting this on the ballot, you’re disregarding federal law,” he said. “I recognize that other states have done it, but like my mom always told me, ‘Just because your friends jump off a bridge, doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing.’ “
Greenlee’s PAC, Healthy and Productive Michigan, currently has about $215,000 in its coffers. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, after spending about $1 million on getting enough petition signatures, has less than $20,000 in available cash.