Michigan voters will likely have the opportunity to join states like Colorado, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, and others in legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana in November 2018. An organization known as the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has been gathering signatures on petitions for months to allow Michigan voters to decide the issue.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is a cooperative effort between the Marijuana Policy Project, MI Legalize, the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, Michigan NORML, the National Patients Rights Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Marijuana Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan.
On November 20, 2017, after gathering signatures for 180 days, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol turned in approximately 360,000 signatures to the Secretary of State. In order to place the issue on the ballot, the group needed to obtain approximately 252,000 valid signatures. Based on the number of signatures obtained and submitted, it appears likely that marijuana legalization is headed to Michigan voters in November 2018.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 64 percent of Americans favor making marijuana legal. Here are some key highlights of the ballot initiative that Michigan voters will likely see in November 2018:
- Marijuana possession, cultivation, and use would be legal for adults 21 years of age and older.
- Operating under the influence of marijuana would still be illegal and subject to criminal penalties.
- Persons that are at least 21 years old would be authorized to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana on their person and would be permitted to cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants.
- Establishment of a regulatory and licensing regime for marijuana business with some restrictions to limit licenses for the first 2 years to businesses that obtain licensure under the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act,
- An excise tax of 10% would be assessed at the point of retail sale, which is in addition to Michigan’s 6% sales tax. The revenue generated would be shared among schools, roads, and local governments.
The medical benefits of marijuana are well-documented in a countless number of scientific studies, and studies have also shown that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. For example, in 2014, more than 30,700 Americans died from alcohol-induced deaths. According to the DEA, no deaths have been reported from overdose of marijuana.