Michigan is angling to become the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana. On Apr. 26, the state’s Board of Canvassers ruled that the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMA) had submitted a sufficient number of signatures (250,000 were needed) to get the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The state legislature will have the opportunity to enact it first, but that’s unlikely. The measure would allow adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of pot and grow up to 12 plants at home. The overall tax rate would be 16% (10% excise tax and 6% sales tax) on cannabis products sold in licensed stores.
This is second effort to get recreational legalization on the Michigan ballot. In 2016, the state Elections Bureau rejected signatures submitted on a technicality. Due to this snafu, Michigan missed the opportunity to be part of the windfall of cannabis victories at the polls in 2016 when eight out of nine states passed either rec or medical initiatives.
Michigan NORML’s Rick Thompson
“The people of Michigan deserved this,” crowed Michigan NORML‘s Rick Thompson. “We’ve faced many trials and tribulations. We’ve had 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.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said as much when he called for federal decriminalization on Apr. 20. “Justice Brandeis said let the states be laboratories,” the Congressman commented. “We’ve now had some evidence. In Washington and other states, it’s done a lot of good and no harm. The experiment has been a success. Let’s nationalize it.”
Schumer’s bill (he’s yet to introduce it in the Senate) would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, hence legalizing it.
But in the meanwhile, states are taking action. Voters in eight states and Washington, D.C. have passed legalization measures since 2012. Earlier this year, Vermont became the first state to enact legalization legislation. Currently, business is flourishing in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada and California. Sales begin in Massachusetts in July, but are being delayed in Maine. Vermont and D.C. have yet to approve a commercial market for cannabis.
Michigan voters legalized medical marijuana by a 63%-37% margin in 2008. With a war chest of $1 million, CRMA should have enough money and support to offset efforts by Healthy and Productive Michigan and Smart Approaches to Marijuana to thwart Michigan’s marijuana measure.
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Author: Steve Bloom