Marijuana would be legalized for recreational uses and taxed at a rate of 16% under a petition which was turned in to the Secretary of State on Friday.
In the event that the state Board of Canvassers approves the petition, the group driving the initiative — the Coalition to Regulate Marijuan Like Alcohol will have 180 days to gather 252,523 signatures from valid registered voters in Michigan. As a way to get a cushion to account for signatures which may be thrown out, the group is establishing a target of accumulating 350,000 signatures.
That’s a job which will require money, said Josh Hovey, a spokesman for the Coalition. The group hopes to raise between $8 million and $10 million as payment for people who will gather the signatures needed to get on the ballot and to wage a campaign to get the measure passed in November 2018.
“Prohibition is a failed big government program,” said former state Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, who’s the political director of the coalition. “We have 20,000 individuals detained every year in Michigan. And we’re now going to be in a position to provide our citizens an option to stop that.”
There are three classes of marijuana growers provided for in the proposal: those who can grow up to 100 plants, 500 plants and 2,000 plants
The coalition is going to have an edge this year over previous attempts to get the matter on the ballot. The national Marijuana Policy Project, which has gotten involved in a number of other states where marijuana legalization has triumphed, has jumped into Michigan’s ballot drive. To date, eight states along with the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, while 29 states have legalized some type of medical marijuana use.
The previous group to try to get the matter on the 2016 ballot — MiLegalize — accumulated more than 350,000 signatures, but not within the 180-day time frame.
MiLegalize, together with the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for Marijuana Legalization or NORML, have signed on to the most recent effort and certainly will bring its army of volunteers to the drive to free the weed. And while law enforcement hasn’t particularly come out and formally opposed the proposal yet, those groups expected to oppose it.