LANSING, Mich. - The group still fighting to put legalizing marijuana on Michigan's November ballot is filing an emergency appeal Tuesday to the Michigan Supreme Court.
MI Legalize, or Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative Committee, says they are working to overcome a "corrupt" law to insure their petition signatures count. They say their fight to get the issue on the ballot is far from over.
“We need the Supreme Court as the Supreme Court of the land to definitively lay down some justice here, because as of now, we’re being denied that," said Jeffrey Hank, MI Legalize executive director and attorney.
Last Friday they filed this appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn the Michigan Court of Claims' decision last Thursday, which sided with the state, ruling that county clerks do not have to validate or count signatures they deemed void, meaning their petition is invalid and off the ballot.
“It’s hard for me to not say that in this instance, yes the system is rigged," said Hank. "We don’t want to believe that but the facts are right here in our face, we’re being kept off the ballot, they’re denying to count the signatures of voters, and we’re just seeing our entire system be corrupted, and we can’t have that.”
On June 1, MI Legalize turned in 345,000 petition signatures, however the Board of Canvassers determined that there were not enough valid signatures to reach the roughly 252,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot.
The hold up now, according to Hank, is a 1986 Board of Canvassers policy. This law put restrictions on signatures that are older than 180 days. The policy says the petition signer has to sign an additional affidavit or the county clerk has to validate the signatures, to ensure the person was registered to vote at the time.
Hank says collecting the affidavits is impossible to get in before for this ballot. Additionally, clerks are refusing to validate the signatures and the Board of Canvassers told them they are not required to do so. All of this after Hank says MI Legalize manually validated the older signatures using Michigan's Qualified Voter File.
“We did everything we could do, this policy is impossible to comply with, and it’s also a crime for someone to sign a petition twice in Michigan," Hank said.
FOX 17 requested comment from the Michigan Department of State Tuesday, however Fred Woodhams with its communications office denied giving statement due to pending litigation. He did provide the Michigan Department of State's staff report on the issue, which deemed MI Legalize's petition invalid.
MI Legalize's emergency appeal follows their appeal filed last Friday to the Michigan Supreme Court, and will ask for a ruling by Tuesday, Sept. 6.
Also keep in mind throughout this process Gov. Snyder signed SB 776 into law this June, days after MI Legalize turned in their petition signatures to the state, enacting the strict 180-day deadline to collect petition signatures.
With time not on their side, Hank says they're not giving up hope, but democracy is at stake.
“If you take away the people’s right to make laws, it’s only going to be powerful interests that can corrupt our legislature and can get things through that are going to have a voice in our government," said Hank. "So it’s really your voice as a citizen that’s being denied here, this isn’t a partisan issue, we’re a non-partisan group, this applies to everyone.”