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)
- Who’s funding the fight over recreational marijuana in Michigan?
- Local governments across Michigan vexed over how to handle legal weed
- Pot in the workplace: Prop 1 has Michigan employers flummoxed
Proposal 2 (redistricting)
- Michigan ballot issues: What to know about Prop 2 (redistricting)
- Who is funding the fight over a redistricting proposal in Michigan
- Opinion: Redistricting proposal is confusing and bad for Michigan
- Opinion | Gerrymandering has been ‘weaponized’ in Michigan
- Phil: Michigan’s elections are rigged. Is redistricting proposal the answer?
Proposal 3 (voting access)
- Michigan ballot issues: What to know about Prop 3 (voting rights)
- Prop 3 shows voters’ distrust. But is Michigan Constitution the best remedy?
- Who’s funding Michigan’s voting rights ballot proposal?
MORE BRIDGE RESOURCES:
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.
BENEFITS OF PROP 1:
- 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.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON THE POT MEASURE:
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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: Who's funding the fight over recreational marijuana in Michigan?
Q: How would recreational marijuana impact Michigan workers?
A: Pot in the workplace: Prop 1 has Michigan employers flummoxed
Q: How has medical marijuana worked in Michigan?
A: 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?
A: Local governments across Michigan vexed over how to handle legal weed