By David Eggert
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan voters will decide in November whether to allow recreational cannabis, after officials unanimously certified Thursday that there were enough signatures to put the marijuana legalization measure on the ballot.
The proposal, which the bipartisan state elections board allowed to proceed on a 4-0 vote, would make Michigan the 10th state, and the first in the Midwest, to legalize the drug for recreational purposes. It would let people 21 and older possess up to 2.5 ounces, or 71 grams, of marijuana, and grow up to 12 plants at home. A 10 percent tax on cannabis would be assessed on top of the 6 Michigan sales tax.
While lawmakers could enact the citizen-initiated bill on their own, Republican House Speaker Tom Leonard said he did not expect that to happen.
“There is not much support in the caucus. I personally do not support it. So I believe this is something that ultimately the voters are going to have to decide,” he said.
Some Republicans fear the legalization effort could drive up Democratic turnout for the general election.
Organizers who secured 277,000 valid signatures, out of 362,000 that were submitted, cheered the advance of their proposal.
“This November, Michigan voters will finally get the chance to eliminate Michigan’s outdated marijuana laws,” said John Truscott, spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “Just like with alcohol, it is clear that prohibition doesn’t work and that regulation and taxation is a far better solution.”
The president of a ballot committee opposing legalization, Healthy and Productive Michigan, unsuccessfully urged the board to reject the cannabis initiative. Scott Greenlee said it is “fundamentally flawed” because federal law prohibits the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana, and is “supreme.”
Though the House leader signaled that the recreational pot bill is headed to a statewide vote, lawmakers do have another option that appears unlikely. They could reject the legislation and propose an alternative, in which case both would be placed on the ballot.
Michigan voters legalized cannabis for medical use in 2008, when 63 percent of voters approved Proposal 1.
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