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Effort to legalize marijuana in Michigan to move forward soon

A man who grows marijuana for medicinal purposes smokes marijuana at a clandestine greenhouse in Mexico City on November 30, 2015. Mexico will embark in January on a national debate on overhauling its marijuana laws, the government said Wednesday, weeks after the Supreme Court opened the door to legalizing pot. (CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

MICHIGAN — Last year, efforts fell short to get it on the ballot but the question of whether to legalize marijuana in our state just might be left up to voters to decide after all.

The push for a 2018 ballot initiative is expected to take a big step forward within the next few weeks, according to John Truscott, spokesperson for the statewide Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

The Detroit News reports MI Legalize, the group which failed to get the issue on the ballot in 2016, has announced its support of the effort being led by the statewide coalition. The group had opposed early drafts of the 2018 proposal, arguing it favored business interests over citizens.

“We’ve tried to be as inclusive as possible,” Truscott told FOX 17 in an interview last week. “We’ve talked to different folks in the business community, law enforcement, just to give everyone some opportunity to give some input about what they’d like to see in this proposal.”

Truscott says the coalition is hoping to have final petition language approved by the Michigan Bureau of Elections within a few weeks. The collection of signatures could begin as soon as the end of May, he said.

If the language is approved, organizers would have to collect 252,523 signatures within a 180-day window for the initiative to be eligible to be placed on the ballot.

“We’re taking a classic campaign approach to this proposal,” Truscott said, adding much of the final language will mirror language in the state’s newly reworked medical marijuana laws approved by the Legislature last fall.

“There are some very good provisions in the (medical marijuana laws) that protect the public, and provide a very safe way to move forward.”

Truscott declined to provide details of the provision, only saying it will aim to legalize recreational marijuana use and possession in “small amounts” for adults. Individuals would only be allowed to grow a limited number of plants at home, while the state would license businesses and tax marijuana sales, he said.

“It will be something that people can look at and say ‘that’s a responsible approach,’” Truscott told FOX 17.

Eight states—Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington—have legalized recreational marijuana use. Thirty states have legalized medical marijuana, Truscott said, citing public opinion showing a growing “wave” of favorable support to end pot prohibition.

“I think 2018 just kind of hits the sweet spot as far as timing with public sentiment,” he told FOX 17.

Right now, the potential ballot initiative does not face any organized opposition, but some current and former law enforcement officials remain opposed to the idea of legalization.

“I have no problem with medical marijuana,” said Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and former Eaton Co. Sheriff.

“Recreational marijuana is a bad idea. It’s costly to the state, you have more auto accidents, more police needed to police that problem, people driving under the influence of marijuana, which is a dangerous thing.”

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Under the new Trump Administration, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not committed to not enforcing existing federal laws like the previous administration. But Sessions has called marijuana a “financial moneymaker” for organized crime and “definitely a cartel-sponsored event,” CNN reported earlier in the month.

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  • steve

    No. We’ve got enough addle-brained people already. Why promote more? Not all those who smoke pot are babbling idiots, for sure. But we’ve got enough foggy thinkers around as is,and we don’t need more.

  • Kenneth Nyquist, esq.

    As a hobby I like to remind people that there are two constitutional mental health protections in the bill of rights. 1st Amendment. Freedom of association, the freedom to think for oneself. Freedom of speech, the freedom to speak one’s own mind. Enjoy them.

    One other thing, an appropriate term for organized perverts anywhere is communists.

  • Old Bob

    I thing legalizing marijuana is a great idea, right after we start testing everyone who gets any type of public aid for drugs. That would cut the people on welfare in half.

  • Common Cents

    So much of the police state depends on police being able to lie about smelling cannabis to violate your constitutional rights. Even if you’re against the consumption of cannabis, the overall effects of legalization on society and freedom clearly benefit every single person in society…except police…but they’re not people anyways.

        • steve thomas

          No one of normal intelligence is understanding what you’re saying. Assuming you’re of at least normal intelligence, slowly and realistically reread your comments word for word and you might see that in this case, Common Cents is pure nonsense

          • Common Cents

            Sorry, I’ll dumb it down for you. Police depend on arrests to make money. When you take away their arrests, you take away their jobs. They need to imprison society in order to stay in business.

          • steve thomas

            Police make arrests because people violate laws. Ideally, the cost of being caught is supposed to be a deterrent to breaking them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m guessing that in your case it’s the latter. Oh, by the way, like any other government employee, police personnel are paid for by taxes paid by the public.

  • G

    Im not for it, last thing I want is more people under the influence. Yes there is alot now, but will be alot more. To many issues if it became legal.

  • Richard Vernaz

    Great comment. Now if you could cite one fatal vehicle accident where marijuana intoxication was the cause. I would be surprised if you can. I would think it is about the same as the number of fatal overdoses from use of marijuana, ZERO.

  • Timmahh

    “Recreational marijuana is a bad idea. It’s costly to the state, ”
    He is 100% on those 2 points. It will cost us DEARLY by not Fully Repealing this insanity.

  • Andrew Foley

    It’s always to spot the old people that no very, very little about cannabis and it’s effects. The funny thing is that you’re all on here crying while the world is passing you by. But hey, go crack open another beer, it’s legal right?

  • Andrew Foley

    It’s always easy to spot the old people that know very, very little about cannabis and its effects. The funny thing is that you’re all on here crying while the world is passing you by. But hey, go crack open another beer, it’s legal right?