Pot Supporters Want Quick Answer From Court On Michigan Legalization Vote

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Marijuana supporters are pushing for a quick answer from the state’s highest court in hopes of allowing Michigan voters decide if recreational pot should be made legal.

MI Legalize, the group behind the effort to place the issue on Michigan’s November ballot, filed an Aug. 30 motion with the Michigan Supreme Court for immediate consideration of the issue as to whether the signatures it turned in to the state are valid. The group is asking for a decision by Tuesday, Sept. 6, to leave time to get the issue on the ballot.

The proposed ballot question would ask Michigan voters if marijuana should be legal for people 21 and older.

After the Board of State Canvassers determined that not enough of the signatures MI Legalize turned in were valid because some were collected outside of a 180-day collection window, the group sued in June.

The Michigan Court of Claims ruled last week that the Secretary of State, Bureau of Elections and Board of State Canvassers have no clear legal duty to count all of the 354,000 signatures MI Legalize turned in.

MI Legalize filed appeals Tuesday, Aug. 30, in the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. A second motion was filed in the Michigan Supreme Court, asking it to bypass the Appeals Court.

“With all due respect to the Court of Appeals, the elections clock is ticking,” MI Legalize Chairman and attorney Jeffrey Hank said in a prepared statement.

“…our campaign must explore every option to get timely relief to place the Michigan Marihuana Legalization, Regulation, and Economic stimulus act on the 2016 ballot so that voters are not deprived of the opportunity to participate in their own self-government,” he said.

MI Legalize began petitioning on June 25, 2015, and the group says it collected enough signatures to qualify.

However, about 200,000 of the 354,000 signatures submitted to the state on June 1, 2016, were older than 180 days, prompting the state to enforce a second validation of signers’ voter status, which the group claims has not been applied to any other campaign.

“The procedure adopted by the Board of State Canvassers for the second validation is impossible to accomplish- mostly because the Bureau of Elections confirmed that the state’s 1,500-plus clerks could refuse to comply with the procedure,” MI Legalize said in a statement.

“Predictably, the clerks did refuse requests to certify petitions, leaving MI Legalize with a no-win situation.”

MI Legalize used the state’s voter database to validate signatures more than 180 days old and provided proof to the state, MI Legalize said.

After MI Legalize turned in its signatures, the legislature changed Michigan law to limit the signature collection period to a strict 180 days.

“The number of signatures submitted is not in dispute,” the statement reads. “An impossible to comply with technicality is what is keeping MI Legalize off the ballot.”

David Cahill, another member of the legal team, said, “The Supreme Court has a process to accelerate decisions on elections issues, and I have every confidence that they will take this case immediately.

“For more than 40 years the Legislature has cut back on the right of the people to petition. If our case does not succeed, that right will have died the death of a thousand cuts.”

MI Legalize has vowed to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, according to the statement.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Pot Supporters Want Quick Answer From Court On Michigan Legalization Vote
Author: Brad Devereaux
Contact: MLive
Photo Credit: Samantha Madar
Website: MLive