Group Pushes Ballot Proposal To Legalize Marijuana In Michigan For The 2018 Ballot


At his hydroponics store in Waterford Township, Lee Wilson notes the medical benefits of marijuana and says he understands the politics that made marijuana illegal in the United States.

He sees nothing wrong with legalizing marijuana.

Why not? Wilson said. I dont understand what the problem is. Just because someone doesnt like it doesnt mean it should be illegal.

A push to legalize marijuana is again in Michigans future on the heels of a number of ballot proposals passed in other states.

Three more states approved the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana Nov. 8 – California, Nevada, and Massachusetts. They join Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Washington, D.C.

Four other states approved medical marijuana: North Dakota, Florida, Arkansas and Montana, making medical marijuana legal in 28 states, including Michigan.

In Michigan, a group that failed to put a recreational marijuana use proposal on the November ballot this year says it will try again for 2018.

MILegalize, which is also the Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative Committee, said the core principles of the ballot issue are to allow use of marijuana by adults, to protect and expand the states medical marijuana program and to allow a hemp industry in Michigan.

In return, the group wants tax revenues from the legalization of marijuana to support public infrastructure, schools, communities and economic development.

While were trying to legalize marijuana, we want to benefit the people of Michigan as widely as possible, said Jeff Hank, attorney with MILegalize.

Hank estimates itll take 250,000 valid signatures gathered within a 180-day period for the proposal to appear on the November 2018 ballot.

It plans to launch its petition drive in the spring and conclude it in fall of 2017.

Marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, illegal nationally under federal law, even though more states have legalized its use both medically and recreationally.


Michigan voters approved statewide medical marijuana use in 2008, but it has been a bumpy ride since then.

Thats because Michigan lawmakers failed to enact a licensing and regulation process, leading to confusion, arrests, prosecutions, and lengthy court trials for those who thought they were complying with the intent of the ballot issue, said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

Lawmakers this year finally clarified state law regarding medical marijuana, he said.

Usually a ballot initiative stakes out a concept and the framework is left to a thoughtful detailed research-based process, which is what we did with casino gambling, said Bouchard, a former state lawmaker. The legislature didnt step in. They ignored it. We finally got some legislation that protects patients and the process.

But in between, it has largely been up to the courts to decide how the medical marijuana law is interpreted, usually after someone has been prosecuted, mostly for running dispensaries which are illegal in Michigan. Some of those cases have taken years because of appeals to higher courts.

As early as last month, Sterling Heights announced a crackdown on illegal medical marijuana grow operations.

Among the cases is that of Peter Trzos, whose medical marijuana dispensary in Holly was busted shortly after it opened. He was charged in 2013. His case is still active in Oakland County Circuit Court pending higher court rulings. Trzos was one of the petition circulators for the Keego Harbor ballot proposal.

Dave Rudoi is Trzos attorney and he sits on the board of MILegalize.

Were more prepared than ever, Rudoi said of the ballot proposal effort, predicting the question will be on the 2018 ballot and that itll pass.

Rudoi said all nonviolent marijuana convictions should be set aside if marijuana is legalized.

Bouchard, the county sheriff, said recreational marijuana use will ultimately be left up to voters to decide.

Whether or not they pass it, I dont know, he said. If Michigan decides for recreational, there has to be a process in place to ensure the safety of the public.

Lawmakers need to address licensing, removing convicted felons from participating, ensuring traffic accidents dont increase, and protecting children, he said.

On the public safety side, those are issues that have to be considered, Bouchard said.


Michigan communities havent waited for statewide ballot proposals to act on recreational marijuana use.

Keego Harbor approved an ordinance a year ago allowing possession of an ounce or less of marijuana for people 21 and older.

There have been 27 local proposals in communities around the state to decriminalize marijuana just since 2013, according to Ballotpedia.

Berkley, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, Oak Park, Portage, Port Huron, Saginaw, Detroit, Flint, Ypsilanti, and Mount Pleasant approved their proposals.

Other communities rejected theirs Clare, Lapeer, Montrose, Onaway, Harrison, and Frankfort.


Many people believe its time to legalize and tax marijuana use.

Absolutely, said Travis LaFalce from Holly on The Oakland Press Facebook page. The war on drugs has been a colossal bipartisan failure, and now members of both parties are coming together to work to end it.

So much lost state revenue in taxes, wrote Lori Craddick Lynch. Not to mention, there are proven benefits to cancer and Alzheimers patients, but too many feel intimidated to seek medical marijuana.

Brett Goss said I have no doubt at the next general election, such a measure would make the ballot, and pass, wrote Brett Goss. If it is not removed as a Class 1 narcotic before then.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Group Pushes Ballot Proposal To Legalize Marijuana In Michigan For The 2018 Ballot
Author: Charles Crumm
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Website: Oakland Press