Marijuana legalization may be coming to the Midwest in 2016 as two ballot initiatives have been approved for circulation in Michigan. The Great Lake State has actually been one of the leaders in marijuana policy for quite some time as Ann Arbor decriminalized personal amounts of marijuana in 1972; the state passed medical marijuana in 2008; and 17 more cities have now joined Ann Arbor in passing decriminalization laws. From the Detroit Free Press:
The board on Thursday unanimously approved petition wordings for the Michigan Cannabis Coalition and the Cannabis Law Reform Committee, though board members expressed concern that the petition wording for the Cannabis Law Reform Committee — though apparently meeting legal requirements — was too small and narrowly spaced to make it easily legible for members of the public.
Each group must now collect close to 253,000 signatures to send legislation to legalize marijuana before the Legislature. If not approved by lawmakers, the proposed laws would then go before the public in November of 2016.
Matt Marsden, a former Senate Republican staffer who is the spokesman for the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, said his group’s proposal would provide for the licensing of cannabis growers and retailers and provide tax revenues for the state. Legalizing marijuana could also significantly reduce the Michigan prison budget because the state would no longer lock up marijuana violators, he said.
In addition to helping continue the national momentum, Michigan legalizing marijuana would have a great impact upon neighboring states. Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois would definitely be influenced by Michigan. The Wolverine has head a head start on cannabis law reform and the initiative process certainly helps. After its neighbors witness the savings and additional revenue that legalization brings, state legislatures will eventually follow suit. Good luck, Michigan cannabis activists!