Michigan ballot issues: What to know about Prop 1 (recreational pot)

Pernicious or delicious? Michigan voters will decide whether to legalize pot for the masses in November. (photo by Philip Bump used via Creative Commons license)

Update Dec. 4: You can smoke pot in Michigan but not buy it. What you need to know.
Nov. 9: You’ll never guess which Michigan counties loved weed (Kidding, you will)
Nov. 6: Michigan approves recreational marijuana. What you need to know.

In a matter of weeks, voters will decide whether to approve recreational marijuana for adult use in Michigan. A “yes” vote on Prop 1 would legalize adult cannabis use, while a “no” vote would continue to only allow access in Michigan for medical marijuana. Marijuana is one of three proposals on the ballot this year. (The others involve redistricting (Prop 2), and voting rights (Prop 3).

Bridge series on ballot issues

Beginning today, Bridge Magazine is providing an in-depth look at the three statewide ballot proposals that Michigan voters will decide Nov. 6.

Throughout this crucial election year, Bridge and the nonprofit Center for Michigan are providing fact-based, data-driven information to voters about elections for Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and other statewide and legislative offices. This includes ballot initiatives. This ballot issue series continues through Thursday.

Proposal 1 (legalizing recreational marijuana)

Proposal 2 (redistricting)

Proposal 3 (voting access)


When it comes to Prop 1, here are some fast facts to consider before you head to your polling place on November 6th:

BALLOT ISSUE: Proposal 1 (Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol)

WHAT IT WOULD DO: The measure would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over. Personal possession would be limited to 2.5 ounces, with households allowed up to 10 ounces and 12 plants. Consumers would pay a 10 percent tax that would fund schools, roads, and local governments.

WHO'S BEHIND IT: Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol

Organized by the D.C. nonprofit The Marijuana Policy Project, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol is comprised of a variety of advocate groups and stakeholders. The Marijuana Policy Project works to change state-level marijuana laws and increase public support for “non-punitive, non-coercive marijuana policies.” Among the Coalition members are the Marijuana Policy Project, MI Legalize, Michigan NORML, the ACLU of Michigan and the Drug Policy Alliance.

In addition to collecting group members, the MPP has spearheaded funding for the Michigan ballot issue. According to July campaign finance disclosures, MPP and its affiliate, the Marijuana Policy Project Foundation, contributed $633,012, or 36 percent of CRMLA funding at that time. This includes direct contributions, staff time, and signature collection. Another large D.C. donor is New Approach PAC, which advocates across the country for marijuana reform and contributed $90,000.

Big in-state donors include: MI Legalize, a pro-legalization group, gave $170,000; $250,000 was donated by Smokers Outlet, a Michigan chain that owns Wild Bill’s Tobacco and Mr. Vapor, and KX3 Superwall, LLC, which donated $50,000 and is registered to Thomas Lavinge, a cannabis attorney and medical marijuana investor.

Several major donors contributed in-kind donations for signature collection valued at thousands of dollars. At $95,000, the largest individual donation came from Kevin McCaffery, an Ann Arbor resident and president of RBK Enterprises. $50,000 worth of in-kind signature collection came from: Sam Usman, Jr., a Michigan State grad who opened a medical marijuana dispensary in 2010; Susan Ruiz, a libertarian postdoctoral researcher at Boston University who has also donated generously to a similar fund in Massachusetts; and DKT Liberty, a D.C. nonprofit that says it defends individual liberty against government encroachment.

WHO'S AGAINST IT: Healthy and Productive Michigan 

Healthy and Productive Michigan, (HPM), was founded by Grand Rapids resident Scott Greenlee, a political consultant and formerly Vice Chairman of Coalitions for the Michigan Republican Party. Greenlee is joined by former Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, (R-Monroe), who works as an organization spokesperson. Matthew Yascolt, who worked in substance abuse prevention at Beaumont Hospital, is the campaign’s Grassroots Director. HPM did not respond to Bridge Magazine’s interview request to discuss the group’s membership and leadership.

MLive reported the group has been joined at several events by Will Jones, a communications and outreach associate at Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). SAM is a Virginia-based nonprofit whose mission that advocates for policies that reduce marijuana consumption. Per July campaign finance disclosures, SAM has provided the HPM with $275,916, which amounts to 99 percent of the funding raised to fight Prop 1.

The remaining $2,645 come from individual Michigan residents.


  • Increased tax revenue: Legalization would create a new revenue stream for schools, transportation, and local governments. States such as Washington and Colorado have harvested millions of dollars in additional taxes. Experts estimate Michigan could make 100 million to 200 million dollars a year from marijuana taxation.
  • Falling arrest rates: States with recreational cannabis have seen arrest rates fall for marijuana-related offenses, keeping people out of the penal system and in the workforce. (It is worth noting that, while arrest rates fall overall, racial disparities in arrest rates do not vanish, with minorities continuing to be arrested at higher rates than whites.)
  • New jobs and businesses: A new industry expands the private sector, opening the door to more businesses and jobs.
  • Health benefits: Research indicates there could be some positive impacts, such as alleviating pain, nausea, seizures, and potentially helping users fight insomnia.


  • Health risks: Despite marijuana’s medicinal uses, it can be injurious to users’ health. Those prone to mental illness and adolescents whose brains are still developing seem to run the highest risk of ill effects, and “substantial” use can harm anybody’s lungs.
  • Public safety: There are concerns about road and worker safety. There is no test to assess whether or not a person is currently under the influence of marijuana, making it difficult to police the roads for drivers under the influence or identify impaired workers on the job. At the moment, research is muddled as to whether there is any effect at all on transit safety, positive or negative.
  • Hiring difficulties: Michigan employers are worried about finding workers that can pass a drug test. There are already areas of the state struggling with this issue, and some companies fear that easy access to weed will only exacerbate the problem.

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER’S TAKE: "Michigan has a chance to get marijuana legalization right. I will be a yes vote on legalizing recreational marijuana when it appears on the ballot this November. As governor, I’m going to make sure we regulate marijuana so it doesn’t get into the hands of our kids and tax it so the money goes to fixing our roads and our broken education system,” Whitmer said to Bridge Magazine via email.

REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR BILL SCHUETTE’S TAKE: Schuette said to Bridge Magazine in an interview, “I believe in democracy and so if the citizens of Michigan pass it I will implement it fully, completely,  according to the statute and and make it work if it’s passed… From my perspective, we don’t need to put more drugs in the hands of children...so I’m voting no on that.”

FUN FACT: Craft cannabis, anybody? Micro-dispensaries may be joining Michigan’s beloved microbreweries. The ballot proposal says “marijuana micro-businesses” could grow, process, and sell plants on one location, just like a microbrewery processes and sells their product in one spot.


Q: Where can I find more information about what would and would not be allowed if prop 1 passes?
A:  What’s legal, and what isn’t, under Michigan recreational marijuana plan

Q: How has recreational weed impacted other states?
A: Message from marijuana country: we love legal pot. Will Michigan?

Q: How does this plan compare to how other states regulate legal weed? How would Michigan’s marijuana tax money be spent?
More pot and lower taxes if Michigan marijuana vote passes this fall

Q: Where can I learn more about the known health impacts of marijuana use?
Support legal pot in michigan? Know the latest health risks (and benefits)

Q: Who is funding this, and where can I learn more about the groups/individuals involved?
Who's funding the fight over recreational marijuana in Michigan?

Q: How would recreational marijuana impact Michigan workers?
Pot in the workplace: Prop 1 has Michigan employers flummoxed

Q: How has medical marijuana worked in Michigan?
Reefer madness in Michigan. Marijuana shops face hazy future. (2017)
A: Take two hits of Maui Wowie and call me in the morning: Baby boomers in the age of medical marijuana (2017)

Q: How would this new industry be regulated?
Local governments across Michigan vexed over how to handle legal weed

Q: What would be the fiscal impact to the State of Michigan?
The Senate Fiscal Agency's analysis of Proposal 1 and the House Fiscal Agency's analysis of Proposal 1

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Tue, 10/09/2018 - 8:07am

So from the Whitmer Democrat position, the question shouldn't be whether we need more things out that that make us dumber and more useless than many of us already are, it is about who gets the money?

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 9:13am

Do you really think that if it's legal 21, 31, 41 yr olds are "suddenly" going to start doing it?

No, the people who would do pot (to the extent of becoming dumber and more useless) already do pot. They just don't do it legally...they hide in basements, they get minor convictions, they are many of our 22, 23, 24 yr old millennials.

Yeah, maybe legalization will get more 30-40-50 yr olds to do it recreationally, but most likely to the extent that they have a few microbrews on the weekend, not to the extent it takes over their life.

I doubt legalization is suddenly going to change Art Van's furniture offerings from being leather couches to black velvet prints, or Lowe's to suddenly carry extensive black light offerings.

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 9:31am

I think you are oversimplifying Whitmer's response.
I am retired from law enforcement here in Michigan and I have had significant experience with marijuana users over the years. Marijuana has always been around - especially since the 1960s - and, throughout my career, I can not recall a single incident where someone under its influence (unless laced or combined with some other substance) became violent or created more than a minor public nuisance. Alcohol, on the other hand....
The key is that our country's approach has been wholly out of proportion to the realities of Marijuana. Our federal government arbitrarily labeled it as a Schedule I narcotic, back in the Nixon era, and banned it so completely that for decades our scientists and medical researchers were prohibited from even studying its properties - whether beneficial or harmful. That is a totally irrational approach, especially while simultaneously supporting the pharmaceutical industry's development and promotion of horribly addictive substances, such as opioids.
To compound the inequities of our marijuana laws, it is tragic that we have imprisoned - and branded as felons - so many of our citizens for mere possession of small amounts of a material that the father of our country, George Washington, cultivated and harvested. Sadly, we have a bad history of regulating substances as opposed to harmful behaviors, as evidenced by Prohibition.
The negative effects of such prohibitions include: Creating an atmosphere where black market opportunities foster and support organized crime; Creating, within that black market, an unreliable sourcing of marijuana that is often contaminated or laced with other substances; Creating a situation where incarceration of non-violent users (for mere possession) has become a major industry and perverse incentive for our for-profit prisons; Creating perverse incentives for law enforcement (through asset forfeiture laws) to extra-judicially confiscate vast amounts of personal property to enrich the departments' coffers; and Creating a permanent underclass in our nation where laws and penalties are disproportionally imposed upon minorities, among other serious issues.
I do not use marijuana nor do I intend to, unless it were helpful for some medical benefit, but like many other legal substances, I think it should be treated like alcoholic beverages. If users of marijuana BEHAVE badly while using it, like with alcohol or prescription drugs, they should be held to account for their ill BEHAVIOR, not merely for possessing a substance. (Exception: Minor in possession of marijuana, like with alcohol or tobacco.)
Regulation, under legalization, will both improve the safety of its use and create a structure for more appropriate enforcement.

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 12:46pm

Dave the point isn't illegality or legality, criminalize or decriminalize, I seriously dislike seeing my taxes used to remedy or punish people who insist on screwing up their own lives. It is the cavalier attitude expressed expressed by a Governor candidate in favor of this because of the tax money the state will gain. Unless you're arguing that having more and openly, state sanctioned stoned people out there is a good thing for our well being and society? I missed her her cheering for the cigarette industry in spite of our past financial windfall.

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 8:43pm

Beats having a bunch of stoned people funding the cartels by buying weed at black market markup

Richard Scott
Sun, 10/14/2018 - 4:23pm

I agree with your comments . I would hope regulation of distributors would include trying to insure purity, no lacing, and
Attempt to find method of assaying strength, a big problem in some states. As Pollan noted the growing of hybrids makes the fruit stronger, and as my Queen says, it is not the pot your grandmother smoked.

Agnosticrat 2.0
Tue, 10/09/2018 - 8:20am

Can anyone tell me how soon after the vote passes I can legally blaze up?
Is there a limited time it will still not be legal?

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 10:20am

Depending on the sources, many say it will take until 2020 before the shops will be up and going. Don't see why, with established methods in other states, should only take a few weeks.

My concern isn't the ability of the private sector being able to deliver what we the people want, it's about if we elect some goofball that tries to sabotage the whole deal even after we decide.

Mike B.
Tue, 10/09/2018 - 10:07am

I dont care if you smoke pot, it is really no buisness of mine what you put into your body.
I would however appreciate the smokers to keep their smoking in appropriate places. Not while standing in line in public places, walking around where children are playing. I dont care if you do it, just be considerate of other people and their children in the area, and if someone politely asks you to not do it right there in front of their kids, then have the common decency to wait til you are no longer in the proximity of others.

Agnosticrat 2.0
Tue, 10/09/2018 - 5:58pm

Mike there are always gonna be idiots. Hell I’ve been to ballgames with loudmouth drunks being moronic more times than I can count.
Besides I’m not sure you can smoke it just anywhere...
I just would like the sanctity of my own home.

Ben Hadagin
Tue, 10/09/2018 - 10:09am

If the Feds delist MJ as a schedule 1 drug won't big tobacco and big ag look to use their influence to implement policies and regulations that would benefit them at the expense of the boutique grower? Also, would the revenues generated be in addition to monies currently allocated for roads, education, etc, or would they simply replace them, like the Lottery?

Mac Wolfe
Tue, 10/09/2018 - 12:49pm

I am 68 years old and I have already voted yes for Prop 1 on my absentee ballot. The prohibition of cannabis has been a failure. Vote "YES" on Prop 1.

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 12:34am

i'm 58 and have already voted no. users of cannabis are the failures. vote no on all 3. going back to the self-centeredness of the 60's will not make our state better for our kids and grandkids nor their kids.

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 12:04pm

I'm surprised you can be so ignorant at 58. You only have a few more years to get that brain working. I have a circle of about 50 friends that smoke and most are one if not all college educated, successful in life, raising great families and running businesses. Educate yourself before voting.

Bob F Forrest
Tue, 10/23/2018 - 10:44pm

And yet all that education and pot smoking couldn't keep you from being arrogant, insulting and rude.

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 5:06am

I don't usually get involved in internet discussions like this but every now and then I read a comment that makes so little sense I feel obligated to comment. First off I don't understand your comment about the sixties. I grant you that I wasn't born yet but as I understand weed was still illegal then and smoking pot was largely something done by the counter-culture and therefore a minority of citizens so if you want to escape a mindset similar to the one held by most people in the sixties why not vote to legalize. I'm also not sure what self-centeredness has 2 do with smoking pot. Most of the pot smokers I know are kind, thoughtful, good hearted citizens and in fact quite a few of them I would consider to be less self-centered than their non pot smoking counterparts. In addition there are millions of self-centered people in the world who carry this unfortunate personality trait. Are some pot smokers? Sure but many of them have never touched weed. How could this be? Perhaps because there's no correlation between the two. Now in regards to your extremely ignorant and vast over-generalization of those who partake in marijuana consumption as failures. Here's a list of many folks that either have smoked pot in the past or continue do so and while many aren't perfect they certainly aren't failures. Maya Angelou, Michael Phelps, the most awarded Olympic athlete in history, Tom Brokaw, Ted Turner, Michael Bloomberg, LeBron James, Sanjay Gupta, Bill Gates, John Kerry, George W. Busch, Clarence Thomas, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Carl Sagan, Abe Lincoln (smoked hemp from a pipe) Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfeld (Ben & Jerry's ice cream), UFC fighters Nate and Nick Diaz, and Kareem Abdul Jabber and that's not even touching the countless pot smokers who've made a name for themselves in film, television, and music. Of course there are also millions of everyday, ordinary citizens who are successful in their own ways. They go to work and provide for their families and contribute to society. Many including myself are college educated and are on their way up in the world and have never done anything to burden society or cause problems for others. So whoever you are I encourage you to next time think before you post or at least before you vote.

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 9:53am

64 and already voted yes.

It's not just that it legalizes, it's that as has been said in another comment, it in a small way restores the sanctity of a person in their own home. Any of us can have an unlimited amount of liquor and certain guns yet because of the perpetuation of flawed laws of the past we cannot be allowed to have a small amount of a plant?

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 5:23pm

I have no problem with anyone exploding their head with MJ, or alcohol, or stuffing themselves with fat saturated fast foods, riding hell bent through traffic on a motorcycle without a helmet, or anything else they can do to their body. What I really object to is the government forcing me to pay for their medical bills through ACA, or extended care for accident victims, or diabetes treatment for overweight, or bridge cards or unemployment for those that an not keep jobs because of drug or alcohol abuse. It’s called personal responsibility folks.

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 10:40am

That would be self-centeredness of the 2010's

tom koch
Tue, 11/06/2018 - 1:01pm

Not to mention the electric bills generated by 12 plants that will be subsidized in the form of bridge card food monies and gov agencies ie.. Tax dollars paying these peoples bills.. Insurance rate hikes and the like

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 9:10am

So how do you tax and know who is growing in their homes. That’s the big question. And that’s a big joke. You don’t know where medical marijuana is growing and now you will know when it recreational. There will be a lot of break ins. And people getting shot.

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 9:45am

Other states have already legalized marijuana. CRIME GOES DOWN, that's just a fact. You sound paranoid. Black markets, drug cartel etc...that's when people get shot.

John Kroneck
Sun, 10/21/2018 - 12:29pm

As a grandfather I look at this proposal in respect to the community my grandchildren will grow up in. So my choice is to limit the possible negative consequences of this proposal passing. There is data that shows that crime goes up, traffic fatalities go up, youth use goes up, and youth success goes down when legalization passes. And as to taxes being collected; with alcohol and tobacco, two current legal substances, for every dollar we collect in taxes for these substances there are related $10 and social cost. Why would we expect anything different with marijuana? This is not what I want for Michigan or for my grandchildren.

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 11:51pm

Seems like sugar causes cancer here!

A guy
Tue, 10/30/2018 - 11:42pm

Sugar causes cancer.