Voters in Michigan will have the chance to approve recreational marijuana for the state, as a legalization initiative now dubbed Proposal 1 will appear on the November ballot. The Board of State Canvassers assigned the number to the voter initiative on Thursday. If passed, the measure would legalize the use and sale of recreational cannabis by adults 21 and older. The initiative also creates a legal framework for commercial sales and the taxation of cannabis businesses.
Mark Passerini of the Om of Medicine provisioning center in Ann Arbor said in a campaign update from the National Cannabis Industry Association that legalizing cannabis for adults would be an economic boon for Michigan. He noted that legalization would create new businesses and jobs while saving and generating tax funds.
“Locking people up for growing or consuming a plant is simply not the best use of critical and limited tax dollars,” Passerini said. “Many municipalities and states across the country have recognized this fact and passed decriminalization ordinances in order to use law enforcement resources on serious crimes. Communities and states that embraced legalization have also witnessed economic development through the creation of new jobs and much needed tax revenues.”
Passerini also said that broader access to cannabis could help the state address the continuing opioid overdose epidemic.
“Our research with the University of Michigan showed a 64% decrease in opioid use amongst patient participants,” he said. “Continued research into the medical efficacy of cannabis will benefit not only the existing patient base, but the community at large.”
Josh Hovey is the spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the group responsible for qualifying the legalization initiative for November’s ballot. He said the coalition successfully brought together cannabis and social justice advocates to write the ballot language. The group then gathered more than 360,000 signatures from supporters to qualify the measure for the ballot. Hovey said that polling has shown strong public support for the legalization initiative.
“Multiple opinion polls have shown that 60 percent of Michigan voters want to end cannabis prohibition and create a legalized and regulated system, so that’s a very strong starting position as we head into the campaign season,” said Hovey. “However, we know we can’t just rely on polls and we know the prohibitionists will continue to spread ‘Reefer Madness’ era misinformation about the initiative.”
The opposition to Proposal 1 is being spearheaded by an organization known as Healthy and Productive Michigan. The anti-pot campaign, which features on its website supposed quotesapparently attributed to a model for Danish photo frames, is using debunked prohibitionist talking points to further its message. One claims that the recreational cannabis industry targets youth, despite evidence from California that shows that marijuana dispensaries do not increase marijuana use by young people.
Despite the information coming from those opposed to Proposal 1, the Om of Medicine’s Passerini said that legalizing recreational marijuana for adults will be a positive change for the state of Michigan.
“By creating a whole new type of industry that operates in a responsible way and holds itself accountable to its community, everyone benefits,” Passerini said.