Voters in Michigan will decide on whether or not to legalize recreational cannabis this November.
State officials announced this week that organizers collected enough valid signatures to get the issue to the ballot. The state election board voted 4-0 to allow the proposal to move forward. If passed, Michigan would become the 10th state to legalize recreational cannabis unless another state’s legislature does so before November.
“We expected this,” said John Truscott, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol according to Detroit Free Press. “Now, we’ll be out and about talking to people and educating them about the issues.”
Under the proposal, Michigan residents 21 and over could legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis flower and grow up to 12 plants at home. A 10% excise tax plus a 6% state sales tax would be applied to all purchases.
“The people of Michigan deserve this. They earned it,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws or NORML. “We’ve faced many trials and tribulations. We’ve had so many stop and go signs from the federal government. That’s why states have to take the reins on the issue and really be the crucibles of democracy that they’ve always been intended to be.”
Legal cannabis is expected to generate up to $1 billion in sales per year and would provide state officials with additional tax revenues.
Despite the potential for new revenue and jobs, not everyone was pleased with the board’s decision.
“By putting this on the ballot, you’re disregarding federal law,” Scott Greenlee, executive director of the Healthy and Productive Michigan political action committee 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.’
“We’re picking and choosing which laws to follow and that’s no way to live,” he said.
Medicinal cannabis is already legal in Michigan but has had a rocky rollout. The program was initially approved in 2008 but has faced several delays. Currently, dispensaries are working under temporary licenses and are awaiting permanent certification.