In April, a group of activists turned in enough signatures to have their ballot initiative, directed at legalizing cannabis for adult use, placed on the November ballot for Michiganders to decide on. The bill would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces outside the home, and up to 10 ounces, or however much was cultivated from a maximum 12 plants per household. It would also give the state the right to regulate a commercial retail industry from seed-to-sale.
Interestingly, some Republican lawmakers were considering the option of adopting the initiative without putting it to a vote. This would have given them more ability to make changes to the amendment in the future – but they only had a short window of time to get enough legislators on board and unfortunately for them, they have now missed their deadline.
“We just simply do not have the votes here for this to happen,” said Speaker of the House Tom Leonard. “So the citizens will be deciding this matter.”
The Senate Republicans were on board, for the most part, and the same ones who initially considered adopting the ballot measure. But when looking to the House Republicans to see if there was enough support (a minimum of 55 votes) it appeared that the numbers weren’t near close enough to consider moving forward. It also appeared that the democrats were not looking to adopt the measure, suggesting republicans only intended to make extreme changes to the proposal after adopting it.
In the end, both the Senate and the House decided not to bother, which officially leaves the decision up to the voters this fall.
“We are confident Michigan voters understand that marijuana prohibition has been an absolute disaster and that they will agree that taxing and regulating marijuana is a far better solution,” said coalition spokesman Josh Hovey. “Multiple polls show that roughly 60 percent of Michigan voters want to see marijuana legalized and regulated.”
Now, if the initiative becomes law, lawmakers will require a three-quarters super-majority in both the House and the Senate in order to make changes to the law. This means it will be much harder for the legislature to alter the law, so the original law that voters passed is likely to (at least mostly) remain in tact as originally intended.
“Traditionally, we trust voters to make these decisions more than we trust lawmakers,” Strekal says. “So we’re looking forward to the voters of Michigan being able to cast their vote, to codify that it’s the public will to legalize marijuana for responsible adult use.”
Since this issue is being left up to the voters, as it was intended, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will be working to educate voters on all the negative impacts of cannabis prohibition, and the growing and numerous benefits of legalizing it – and trust that enough voters will turn out to show their support for this measure come November.