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Michigan’s Highly Anticipated Marijuana Initiative Could Be In Trouble

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Michigan’s Highly Anticipated Marijuana Initiative Could Be In Trouble

Michigan voters may end up getting cheated out of a crucial opportunity to legalize marijuana later this year if a bill aimed at revising the rules of an election law happens to take effect before advocates can collect remaining signatures needed to get their proposal on the ballot in November’s general election.

The Michigan Senate voted on Thursday in favor of a proposal that would impose a strict 180-day window on groups working to collect signatures for statewide ballot measures. The proposal, which is now on its way to the House of Representatives for consideration, would basically amend the language of the law to clarify that all signatures must be gathered within 180 days – no extensions, no debate.

“It’s very simple: 180 days means 180 days,” Senator Dave Robertson, the bill’s primary sponsor, told The Detroit News. “We’re not changing it. We’re affirming it.”

Unfortunately, the passing of this measure could sabotage the state’s most promising initiative seeking to legalize a full-scale recreational cannabis industry in 2016. Organizers with MILegalize, also known as the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee, are concerned that with the legislature hell bent on closing a loophole on the signature gathering process, it could end up disqualifying all of the petitions they have secured outside the allotted 180-days.

MILegalize was supposed to have all 253,000 signatures turned in to the Secretary of State’s office on Dec. 20, yet they are still working against an election law that suggests there is “rebuttable presumption” that any signatures gathered after the 180-day deadline are “stale and void.” The group argues the law could easily be contested in court because while it was virtually impossible to determine whether a signature was “stale” when the law was created, now, with modern technology, older signatures can easily be confirmed and certified.

Some lawmakers claim this attempt at passing the bill is simply a last ditch effort to prevent the state from legalizing marijuana outside the strong arm of the Michigan legislature. “They decided to pass a bill to stop that process,” said state Senator Coleman Young II. “They’re not doing this because of legitimate reasons; they’re doing this simply because they don’t like the issue of the legalization of marijuana.”

A post on the MILegalize website indicates that the group still needs another 50,000 signatures before they can qualify their initiative for the forth coming election. Unfortunately, this may be too much of a gap to thwart the efforts of the House of Representatives, which is expected to pass the bill expeditiously, in an effort to get it to the desk of Governor Rick Snyder, who is reportedly waiting to sign the bill with pen already in hand.

If this measure becomes law, which is expected, not only does it stand to crush the efforts of MILegalize, but it would also destroy the chances of any other group qualifying a marijuana ballot initiative this year. Yet, organizers are not prepared to lie down and die.

“Petitioning is a fundamental right, just like freedom of speech, and so the policy (that regulates it) has to be the least burdensome way of exercising that right,” said Jeff Hank, chairman of MILegalize “If the state doesn’t approve us for the ballot, we’re going to sue — that’s 100 percent guaranteed.”

Are Michigan voters getting cheated out of an opportunity to legalize cannabis? 

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. MrTopgun21

    March 20, 2016 at 5:48 am

    This whole article is bullshit! The Mich. Legislation are not keen on fast tracking the petition law changes, and want to wait a few weeks. AND even if they did enact the new petition rules, they wouldn’t go into effect until January 1st, 2017. Well past the election and the vote to legalize weed in Michigan, not affecting MIlegalize at all.

  2. Jesse Barber

    March 17, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Please let me know were in can sign the petition

    • Belle Jenne

      March 19, 2016 at 6:33 am

      If you go to MILegalize.com there is a map with petition locations. Or, you can send MILegalize a message on their MILegalize Facebook page and they will mail a petition to your house.

  3. Michael McShane

    March 16, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Glad to hear it ! All the MiLegaLIES represented was a monopoly on the cannabis business. It gave the lawyers that wrote it more work. It gave law enforcement more cases to prosecute and left the regular guy on the street to pay high prices for limited supplies of cannabis. This septic group was using purely deceptive tricks to convince the very people that were helping them to do their dirty work. At the end a few at the top of the pyramid would get rich.I never saw the leader (Jamie Lowell) even smoke a joint with anyone much less pay for anything he would take. Good riddance to these modern day prohibitionists !

    • Frank

      March 16, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      What am I missing here? The bill would allow anyone 21+ to grow it themselves… And restricted the cost of getting a license to grow so that any and all mom and pop shops could open up… Where is the monopoly? Where is the limited supply?

    • GMBeaulac

      March 18, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      Wow, there certainly is a blatant set of Lies, Michael McShane, but only from you! Read the initiative for yourself and stop letting other people do your thinking for you.

      http://www.milegalize.com/read_the

      It allows for edibles and oils, allows for the hemp industry to operate unmolested, lets homegrow occur, allows a variety of small businesses to gain licenses at capped rates, sets a excise tax of 10% (less than Colorado, for example), earmarks the proceeds to specifically be invested in things voters care about, rather than going to the general fund, protects marijuana users from loss of child custody or other persecution, etc.

      It’s the ideal law, and would make Michigan the envy of every state that has it currently enacted. Rather than spout your prohibitionist propaganda, do you have any SPECIFICS of the initiative that you are concerned about? If so, did you attend any of the town hall events which they put forth when drafting this to get community involvement and input on it and voice those concerns? Is this even a real account, or just a fake one to spout lies and propaganda from?

    • Belle Jenne

      March 19, 2016 at 6:35 am

      You don’t know what you’re talking about Michael McShane. If you did know what you’re talking about, you would know that MILegalize is a very well written proposal that supports the little guy!!

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