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Effort Underway to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in Michigan

A Michigan coalition working to legalize and regulate the use and sale of adult use cannabis has already gathered 100,000 signatures for their ballot initiative.

A coalition of citizens, community leaders, businesses, and organizations are gathering support for a 2018 ballot initiative that would end marijuana prohibition in Michigan. After just six weeks time, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has already gathered more than 100,000 of the 252,523 signatures of registered Michigan voters it needs to place the initiative on the ballot.

The measure – the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act – would permit those over the age of 21 years to possess up to 2.5 ounces of personal use marijuana on their person and 10 ounces at home. Adults would also be permitted to grow up to 12 plants at home. The proposal also calls for the establishment of commercial marijuana production and sale licensing. A 10 percent tax on marijuana would be accessed, in addition to a 6 percent sales tax.

The Board of State Canvassers approved the coalition’s petition in May. The committee has six months to gather valid voter signatures to present the measure for a statewide vote in November 2018.

The efforts of Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol are led by the Marijuana Policy Project, a national marijuana advocacy group that has helped legalize marijuana in other states. Efforts are gaining steam, as the group has raised more than $818,000 in combined direct and indirect contributions.

“We continue to be ahead of schedule on our signature efforts; our fundraising is going strong and keeping up with the pace needed to maintain our paid signature collection,” said Josh Hovey, a spokesman for the committee. “We’re roughly halfway there.”

The committee is using the funds to create a large network of signature gatherers and others who are tasked with verifying the legitimacy of those signatures.

Earlier this year, thousands of people gathered at the University of Michigan for a rally in support of marijuana legalization. A poll conducted in February found that 57 percent of Michigan voters would definitely vote yes, probably vote yes, or lean toward voting yes on a ballot question about legalizing marijuana.

“We’re really encouraged by the outpouring of support that we’ve received,” Hovey said. “The campaign continues to get emails and phone calls every day from people around the state who realize that marijuana prohibition has failed.”

A preliminary economic analysis conducted for Marijuana Policy Group estimated that an adult use marijuana market would be worth $2 billion a year. This could mean more than $200 million in extra state revenue.

The ballot measure does give “complete control” to local city and town governments to decide whether to ban cannabis retail stores.

As of now, eight U.S. states have passed laws legalizing recreational marijuana. Similar efforts to legalize adult use cannabis are currently happening in Missouri and Utah. In Oklahoma, a recreational marijuana measure has already been certified for the ballot and will be presented to voters in November. A market report from Marijuana Business Daily projects the nation’s marijuana market will reach $17 billion by 2021.

Learn more about Michigan’s current cannabis laws and cannabis policies throughout the U.S. through our education page.