If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That appears to be the approach for one Michigan prohibitionist group that was originally created to fight cannabis legalization but is now supporting it. Of course, there is a caveat. And it’s all about politics, not sound policy.
The Committee to Keep Pot out of Neighborhoods and Schools, a political action committee established to combat a ballot measure to regulate marijuana, is urging the state Legislature to vote in favor of the proposal before the voters decide it. Why? Because the anti-cannabis PAC believes it can influence politicians to water down the existing law before the will of the people can decide for themselves.
It is one of the most cynical, partisan attempts by the Reefer Madness crowd to fight a losing battle. If the state lawmakers reject the PAC’s bidding, the full, uncompromised measure will be placed on the November ballot.
According to a report in the Detroit Free Press:
“This committee was initially formed to defeat the recreational ballot proposal, but now we believe that the Legislature should amend and adopt the initiative before it’s too late,” said Mark Fisk, a spokesman for the committee. Marijuana legalization “will be a reality in Michigan. Initiatives have been approved in 29 states and polling has been very strong.
“Regardless of our feelings on the issue, the question now is how to regulate and control recreational marijuana.”
Drug warriors — and the Republican Party — are fearful that having a marijuana measure on the ballot will lead to high voter turnout among Democrats and young voters. Many political pollsters are expecting a Blue Wave of progressive votes in November, so this gambit is designed to quell voter turnout in addition to execute some statehouse influence peddling.
Fisk told the Free Press that he is fighting to amend the current measure to maintain the onerous regulations in place for the state’s existing medical marijuana program. “We think the medical marijuana act that the Legislature passed had bipartisan support,” he said. “And that has a system of accountability that you need to bring to recreational marijuana, too.”
Republicans are still considering taking up the issue in order to bypass a popular vote. Democrats, on the other hand, want to put the issue in the hands of the voters.
There are a handful of other groups fighting against legalization. One out-of-state 0rganization — Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a leading prohibition outfit run by longtime drug warrior Kevin Saget — has already spent $275,000 to fight the measure.
The deadline for the Legislature is June 5. If there is no action, legalization will have to wait until November. Polling shows legalization is wildly popular among Michigan voters, especially among young voters and Democrats.