Michigan pot legalization initiative dodges Republican meddling, heads to ballot

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A 40-session day window in which the state legislature had the ability to amend and adopt a marijuana legalization initiative is over, with lawmakers having taken no action on the proposal.

That means the initiative, which has been approved by the Board of State Canvassers, now heads to the Nov. 6 ballot, where it's likely to pass. More than 60 percent of Michiganders support the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol's proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational use for people 21 and up, according to the latest EPIC-MRA poll.

During the period in which lawmakers had the chance to act, several rumblings suggested they were trying to rally support to adopt the proposal. Some reports said the goal was to avoid a predicted increase in voter turnout should pot legalization be on the ballot.

Though some marijuana activists were concerned that the Republican-led legislature would change the proposal for the worse if it moved to adopt it, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol wanted to see lawmakers pass it immediately so legalization could become law before November.

“While we would have been happy to see our initiative passed by the legislature as written, we are confident Michigan voters understand that marijuana prohibition has been an absolute disaster and that they will agree that taxing and regulating marijuana is a far better solution,” CRMLA spokesperson Josh Hovey says in a news release.

With the initiative heading to the ballot, Hovey says the group will focus on educating voters about the issue. Despite polls showing strong support for the initiative, he says, "as we saw with the legislative debates these past few weeks, there is still a lot of misinformation out there,”

The CRMLA provided the following information:

- Marijuana has legitimate medical uses and is proven to be safer and less addictive than either alcohol or tobacco

- The continued enforcement of marijuana prohibition wastes law enforcement resources and clogs our legal system

- Taxing and regulating marijuana has the potential to generate hundreds of millions of dollars that will be dedicated to Michigan’s roads, schools, and local governments

- The campaign is proposing a set of strict regulations that follow best practices from other states that have already legalized as well as the regulatory system set by the legislature in 2016

- Local communities will have the authority to regulate marijuana businesses within their jurisdictions or ban them altogether

Michigan would be the 10th state to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older.

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