Michigan: Two Initiatives to Legalize Cannabis Approved by State Officials
Two separate campaigns aiming to legalize cannabis in Michigan have received approval from the state to begin collecting signatures on their initiatives, with both groups aiming for the 2016 general election ballot.
The Board of State Canvassers on Thursday approved petitions from the Michigan Cannabis Coalition (MCC) and the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee (MCCLRC). Both groups will now have 180 days to collect the 252,523 signatures from registered Michigan voters in order to put their initiatives to a vote in November, 2016.
Although both initiatives would legalize recreational cannabis for those 21 and older, they vary in several ways.
Under MCC’s proposal, the state’s Legislature would be required to establish a regulatory and licensing system for cannabis facilities, which would be overseen by a new Michigan Cannabis Control Board. Lawmakers would also be tasked with determining the tax rate on cannabis sales.
Matt Marsden, a spokeperson for MCC, tells us that the measure would allow those 21 to cultivate up to two plants cannabis plants for personal use, with municipalities given the option of increasing the number to four, or prohibiting personal cultivation all together. There would be no limit on how much cannabis a person can possess at a given time. According to Marsden, the group plans to begin collecting signatures this weekend.
MCCLRC would also legalize cannabis retail outlets, but would set the tax at 10%, which would be in addition to the state’s sales tax. The proposal would also allow adults to cultivate up to twelve plants for personal use, and would allow localities to prohibit cannabis facilities, but would give voters the opportunity to reverse such action.
“We believe we’ve crafted the best law there is — better than the Legislature would create,” says Jeff Hank of MCCLRC. Hank notes that his group has led successful decriminalization efforts across the state in cities such as Detroit and Lansing.
A third group, the Michigan Responsibility Council, is also considering filing an initiative which would place cannabis in the same three-tier regulatory system the state currently has for alcohol.
According to polling released in April by the Marketing Resource Group, 51% of Michigan voters favor legalizing cannabis, with 45% opposed.