Michigan is one step closer to legalizing pot


  • Jacob Lewkow
Let the signature-collecting begin.

The Michigan State Board of Canvassers has approved language of a marijuana legalization initiative that would go before voters in November of 2018. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (RMLA) now has 180 days to collect 252,523 valid signatures from people who'd like to see the proposal on the ballot.

If passed, the RMLA proposal would legalize personal possession, cultivation and use of limited amounts of cannabis for adults 21 and older. It would also tax marijuana at retail levels with a 10 percent excise tax and 6 percent sales tax.

The ballot language came out of a collaboration between grassroots organizations and key stakeholders in Michigan's soon-to-be commercialized medical marijuana industry. They include the ACLU of Michigan, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Patients Rights Association, Michigan NORML, and MI Legalize.

All the organizations appear supportive of the finalized ballot language, despite some infighting that went on during the drafting process. Some stakeholders in March told Metro Times they thought the rules that would govern the legalized industry gave middlemen an outsized role. Also at issue was a micro-grow component that would allow people cultivating 150 plants to enter the commercial market. Right now, caregivers are able to grow up to 72 plans for themselves and five other patients. Rules going into effect at the end of this year will allow commercial grows of 500, 1,000 and 1,500 plants.

The RMLA effort is backed by the Marijuana Policy Project — the group responsible for the legalization of marijuana in a number of states. A separate group, MI Legalize, was behind a failed legalization effort in the state in 2016. Petitioners were unable to get the issue on the ballot because they did not collect the appropriate number of signatures within the requisite 180 days.

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