Marijuana Legalization Will Not Be Put Before Michigan Voters In November

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A campaign to put a marijuana-legalization question on Michigan ballots suffered a setback today that could keep the measure off November ballots.

The petition campaign called MI Legalize failed to submit enough valid petition signatures, according to a ruling by the Michigan Court of Claims.

Although MI Legalize submitted 354,000 signatures – well over the 252,000 required – the court agreed with a State Board of Canvassers decision in June, deciding that “more than 200,000 were collected more than 180 days before the petition was submitted” to the Secretary of State – a violation of state law.

The MI Legalize lawsuit argued that the group had provided an easy way for the state to see that the 200,000 “stale” signatures were, in fact, valid. In addition, the lawsuit contended that the 180-day requirement was unconstitutional and unfair. But the court didn’t accept those arguments in granting a summary disposition of the case to the defendants – Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, Elections Bureau Director Chris Thomas and the state Board of Canvassers.

“We’re disappointed but we always figured this would go to the state Supreme Court – and that’s where we’re headed” with an emergency appeal, said Jeff Hank, a Lansing lawyer who is chairman of MI Legalize.

Yet, experts on state election law for months have said MI Legalize is unlikely to succeed this year. To get the measure on November ballots, the high court might need to override deadlines for printing and distributing absentee ballots. Municipal clerks start getting their local ballots proofed and printed around Sept. 9, and they are mailed to overseas military members around Sept. 24, according to the Bureau of Elections.

“Sometime between those dates, we’d have to have a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court,” Hank said. If that fails, he’d file an appeal on First Amendment constitutional grounds with the U.S. Supreme Court, Hank said.

“But then it would be 2018” at the earliest before the measure would get on state ballots. The ballot question calls for “taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol”; and it specifies that taxes would go toward state road repairs, education funding and local government coffers, according to the MI Legalize website.

MI Legalize has spent 18 months and more than $1 million in its petition campaign to legalize recreational marijuana.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Marijuana Legalization Will Not Be Put Before Michigan Voters In November
Author: Bill Laitner
Contact: 313-222-6400
Photo Credit: Debra Young
Website: Detroit Free Press