Will Michigan Legalize Recreational Marijuana?

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Michigan will vote on marijuana legalization in the next election, and a new study shows that 61 percent of voters in Michigan support legalizing marijuana like alcohol and tobacco, according to CBS News Detroit.  

The survey was conducted by Epic-MRA, a public opinion and market research firm in Michigan. The Michigan Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) commissioned the study.  

Michigan Daily poll reported an even higher percentage, reporting that at least 72 percent of voters support marijuana legalization. Michigan is set to vote on the ballot initiative that proposes legalizing marijuana in the November election due to the efforts of The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.  

The Coalition obtained more than 360,000 signatures on a petition last year, making the initiative eligible for the November ballot. The question will ask voters whether or not recreational marijuana should be legalized, taxed, and regulated just like the state regulates and taxes alcohol and tobacco.  

The ballot initiative would permit people 21 years of age and older to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or 15 grams of cannabis concentrate if passed. The initiative would also permit residents to have up to 10 ounces of marijuana at home as well as grow up to 12 marijuana plants for personal use.  

The Michigan Marijuana Legalization Initiative would be implemented statewide if passed; however, cities throughout the state would be permitted to ban marijuana businesses within city limits if they desire to do so. 

Detroit May Disregard Voters and Ban Pot Anyway 

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The Detroit Free Press reported that the city cannot agree on how to regulate the marijuana industry. Detroit tried to regulate the number of dispensaries allowed in the city last year and closed down 175 medical marijuana dispensaries before two ordinances expanding medical marijuana access in the city were passed in November. Detroit previously had at least 250 medical marijuana dispensaries.  

There is now a debate between medical marijuana voters and city officials on whether voters can change a city ordinance. The marijuana industry is expected to earn at least $1 billion next year if the initiative is passed, and marijuana advocates say that the city is going to lose out on revenue from regulation and taxation.  

Local legal counsel for an area medical marijuana dispensary, Paula Givens, said that she discourages her clients from opening any marijuana businesses inside of Detroit's city limits because of the city's inability to agree on regulations. She also said that it's unfortunate Detroit will likely miss out on all of the jobs, income, and sales tax that could be generated if the city does not solve its regulation problem.  

Mayor Mike Duggan said that he had thought that 50 marijuana dispensaries in the city would be sufficient until the voters approved the expansion. He acknowledged that the conflict between the ballot initiative and state law creates a "legal quagmire" but that he and the lawyer for the city, Laurence Garcia, would be brainstorming for a solution.  

The city needs to have an ordinance by the medical marijuana licensing deadline set by the state, otherwise dispensaries currently in business under emergency licenses will risk being closed down for operating an illegal marijuana business.  

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated that the federal government would enforce federal law on marijuana businesses when he rescinded the Obama policy protecting states from federal prosecutors in legal marijuana states last January.   

According to the spokesman for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, David Harns, the deadline to obtain a medical marijuana vendor license is June 15.