A group working to legalize marijuana in Michigan in 2016 may be in trouble. Jake Neher has the story.
A Michigan group hoping to put marijuana legalization on the 2016 ballot appears to be thousands short as it approaches the end of its planned signature gathering period. “We do not have the signatures that we want at this point,” said MI Legalize organizer Jeffrey Hank. “We want to be able to turn in with a sufficient cushion.” But Hank says he’s still confident they’ll get the signatures they need by extending the petition circulation period into the new year.
He’s seeking a state policy change that would make it easier for ballot campaigns to go beyond the 180-day window for signature gathering, which a state elections boards is currently considering. “Practically speaking, no, I don’t really think we’re in trouble. Our intention is to make the ballot and we’re still going strong,” said Hank. “If we were in a position where things were dire, we would just announce that and quit or we would look at other options. But right now we’re continuing on with a plan to make it to November.”
Another MI Legalize organizer, Chuck Ream, was quoted by the Washtenaw Voice newspaper as saying the group was 80,000-90,000 signatures behind. In a later e-mail to marijuana activists, Ream said the numbers were “ballpark” – and the group now says those are old numbers and are not accurate. Still, every indication is the group is thousands of signatures short just days ahead of its original December 21 deadline to stop collecting signatures.
MI Legalize’s proposal would allow people 21 and older to use and possess all forms of marijuana and tax recreational sales at ten percent. The revenue would go to schools, roads, and local governments. Adults would also be allowed to cultivate up to 12 cannabis plants. It’s one of two groups currently collecting signatures to put marijuana legalization on the 2016 ballot. The other group, the Michigan Cannabis Coalition (MCC), would also allow marijuana use and possession for people 21 years and older. It would allow two flowering plants per adult. It would leave regulations and taxation largely up to state lawmakers and earmark revenues for “education, public safety and public health.”
MCC has not given an indication of current signature totals, but is expected to make an announcement by the end of the year.