LANSING – Recreational marijuana legalization is likely headed to the November ballot after House Speaker Tom Leonard said Thursday there’s not enough support for the proposal to be approved in the House.
The Board of State Canvassers on Thursday certified the proposal allowing it to be approved by the Legislature or go to the November ballot. There has been some speculation legislative Republicans might try to enact the proposal as it could potentially drive more liberal voters to the polls in November.
Leonard (R-DeWitt) said after session Thursday he does not anticipate the House taking up the proposal. House Republicans held an off-site caucus Thursday morning where the proposal was discussed, along with the prevailing wage proposal, which was not certified by the board (see separate story).
“There is not much support in the caucus,” Leonard told reporters. “I personally do not support it. So I believe this is something ultimately the voters are going to have to decide.”
There was little discussion among the board members and little testimony on the issue before the board adopted the staff report on the signatures.
The Bureau of Elections staff found that the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol collected 277,370 valid signatures, more than the 252,523 signatures needed to make the ballot. As the first measure approved for the November ballot, it will be designated Proposal 2018-1.
“This November, Michigan voters will finally get the chance to eliminate Michigan’s outdated marijuana laws,” Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Spokesperson John Truscott said in a statement. “Just like with alcohol, it is clear that prohibition doesn’t work and that regulation and taxation is a far better solution.”
Scott Greenlee with Healthy and Productive Michigan, which opposes the measure, said the board could not certify the petition because it violated federal law.
“This ballot initiative is fundamentally flawed,” Greenlee said. “Allowing people to pick and choose what federal laws to follow is something a civilized and orderly society cannot do.”
Matthew Abel, one of the attorneys supporting the proposal, countered that the federal law in question expressly did not preempt state laws on the issue.
There was also a brief discussion that supporters used the same signature collection firm as the effort to repeal the prevailing wage and that there were the same circulator issues on many of the petitions (see related story), but supporters said the issue had not been raised during the challenge period.
Elections staff said the content of the petition was not within the board’s purview, only the validity of the signatures.
Though it did not have bearing on the decision to certify, board member Colleen Pero argued there was a campaign finance violation tied to the petitions because the address listed for the committee was incorrect. “That’s 59,601 violations,” Pero said.
This story was published by Gongwer News Service.