Activists in Michigan have collected enough signatures to place a marijuana legalization ballot initiative before voters in November, state elections officials have determined.
Staff with the Bureau of Elections announced on Monday that they estimate organizers collected 277,370 valid signatures, exceeding the 252,523 needed to qualify for ballot access.
The Board of State Canvassers is expected to formally certify the count at a meeting on Thursday.
The proposed Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act would allow adults over 21 to possess, grow and use small amounts of marijuana legally. Specifically, they could grow up to 12 total marijuana plants in a single residence, possess 2.5 ounces outside their homes and store 10 ounces at home (in addition to what they grow legally).
State regulators would grant business licenses for cultivators, processors, testing facilities, secure transporters, retail stores and microbusinesses (i.e. small businesses cultivating a low number of plants from which they would sell product directly to consumers). Municipalities would be empowered to regulate or ban cannabis businesses.
Retail sales would be subject to a 10 percent excise tax in addition to the state’s regular six percent sales tax. Revenues would cover the cost of regulation and additionally fund schools, roads, local governments and FDA-approved research on medical marijuana’s role in helping military veterans struggling with PTSD and other conditions.
The measure enjoys broad support from mainstream Democratic players in the state.
“Michiganders have the right to decide this important issue, and Senator Peters supports the ballot initiative effort underway in the state to legalize marijuana for recreational use,” a spokesperson for U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D), told VICE. “Senator Peters believes this change will generate desperately needed tax revenue to support Michigan’s deteriorating schools and aging roads and bridges, and prevent people who use marijuana from ending up in the prison pipeline.”
“It’s time to decriminalize medical and recreational marijuana. It’s also important to move forward thoughtfully and work closely with law enforcement, public health officials, business leaders and communities to ensure we get this right and avoid unintended consequences,” Sen. Debbie Stebenow (D), told VICE through a spokesperson.
Democratic candidates in this year’s gubernatorial and attorney general races have endorsed legalization as well.
And Republicans may be realizing that cannabis has political momentum, too. While they are not endorsing the measure, reports have circulated in recent weeks that GOP legislative leaders are considering simply passing a legalization bill instead of letting the question go to the ballot because they fear it will drive voter turnout among young people and other constituencies that tend to support Democrats.
Elsewhere, Utah activists collected enough signatures to qualify a medical cannabis measure for that state’s November ballot, county officials determined last week.
And in Oklahoma, voters will see a medical marijuana question on their June 26 primary ballot, while proposed cannabis measures are still pending in several other states.
See the Bureau of Elections’s estimate of marijuana legalization signatures below:
Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.