LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Michigan would legalize the use of marijuana for recreational use under two proposed initiatives for which advocates will soon begin collecting voter signatures.
The Board of State Canvassers approved the form of the petitions on Thursday. Two advocacy groups each need about 253,000 valid signatures to put the bills before the Republican-led Legislature.READ MORE: Safety Is Top Priority As Parents, Students Prepare For Upcoming School Year
“The sponsors are very confident they can gather more signatures than needed to put this on the statewide ballot,” said WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick.
If lawmakers do not act, the measures would receive statewide votes in November 2016.
“Here’s what it would do if it gets to the ballot and the voters say yes: Those over the age of 21 could legally smoke marijuana,” said Skubick. “The state would create a control board to regulate it, and it would be sold at retail outlets in commercial zones. The state lawmakers would also have a right to tax it to collect revenue.”
One initiative is being led by traditional marijuana activists. The other has backing from a Republican political operative working on the behalf of anonymous business interests.READ MORE: Donations Needed For Landfill Search To Find Zion Foster
Advocates have said Michigan could add jobs and tax revenue by legalizing and regulating marijuana for recreational purposes. Some estimate that marijuana taxation could generate as much as $200 million a year for the state.
The rate at which marijuana is taxed would be determined by the lawmakers, not by the petition drive, said Skubick.
Michigan already allows marijuana use for medical purposes and more than a dozen communities have voted to decriminalize possession of the drug. The decriminalization measures put the communities in potential conflict with state law. Michigan currently bans marijuana use and possession unless it’s medical.
Recreational marijuana is legal in Washington state, Colorado and Washington, D.C. It will become legal in Oregon this summer.MORE NEWS: Businesses Make Changes To Keep Customers Safe Amid Boil Water Advisory In SE Michigan
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