Michigan could be well on its way to becoming the first state in the central part of the nation to bring down the scourge of prohibition.
MILegalize, the organization working to put a recreational marijuana ballot measure in front of voters this November, recently announced that they have collected more than enough signatures to get their proposal certified by the state. The group says they have secured over 300,000 signatures — about 50,000 more than what is needed to move on to the next phase of the campaign. [Update: While the release issued by MILegalize stated they had 300,000 signatures the organization has since clarified they have gathered 240,000 signatures toward their goal.]
But even though the group feels confident that most of the signatures will be verified, Chairman Jeffery Hank says they will spend the rest of the month rustling up support from additional voters before submitting the final load to the Bureau of Elections in an effort to ensure that there is no way the state can sabotage months of labor intensive canvassing in the 11th hour.
“We have to overachieve that number,” Hank said, “because we are sending a clear message that Michigan is ready to lead on civil rights, job growth, education and better roads.”
Although several groups emerged over the past year with plans to legalize weed in Michigan, only MILegalize has been able to pull together the necessary resources to pull it off. In fact, while organizers struggled to raise the funds to bring their concept of legalization to fruition, the campaign is now on the verge of becoming a $1 million cannabis crusade devoid of influence from special interests and lobbying groups – an element of the campaign that not many other advocacy groups can boast here in the United States.
“We are independent,” explained Hank. “This is a true grassroots movement that stands for more than cannabis reform. We are citizens seeking common-sense policies and dedicated to preserving democracy in Michigan and making Michigan great.”
If the group’s initiative earns a place on the ballot in the forthcoming November election, the state stands a significant chance of legalizing weed in a manner similar to what is currently underway in Colorado and Washington. In March, a pollster telephone survey found that 53 percent of Michigan residents would vote in favor of a taxed and regulated marijuana market if presented the question at the polls – a low-ball number, according to Detroit lawyer and executive director of Michigan NORML Matt Abel.
“To me, this poll actually under-represents the real number of people who truly would vote for legalization because some people just don’t want to admit how they feel to a pollster,” he told The Detroit Free Press.
The language of the MILegalze ballot measure indicates that adults 21 and over would be allowed to purchase cannabis from retail outlets all across the state, with the tax revenue being put towards fixing roads and schools. Michigan residents would also be allowed to cultivate up to 12 plants at home for personal use and violations to the newfound cannabis laws would be handled with small fines instead of criminal penalties.
All of the petitions supporting this initiative must be submitted to the state by June 1.
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