This November, voters in Michigan will have the opportunity to decide on the controversial and heavily politicized issue of recreational cannabis. Thirty states have already legalized cannabis for medical use; back in 2008, Michigan became the 13th state to legalize medical cannabis. Since then, recreational use of cannabis in Michigan has remained illegal, despite having been decriminalized in multiple large cities such as Detroit, Flint, and Grand Rapids. Prop 1 would make the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana recreationally legal in Michigan for adults over the age of 21. Michigan residents would also be legally allowed to grow up to 12 cannabis plants per person.
Previous attempts to legalize recreational marijuana in the state of Michigan have been unsuccessful. Last year, pro-legalization organizations such as the political action committee, The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, successfully petitioned the Michigan legislature to add an initiative to legalize recreational cannabis to be voted on in the upcoming election. In November of 2017, after receiving over 365,000 signatures supporting the proposition, Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers voted 4-0 to approve the addition of recreational cannabis legislation to the ballot. In June of this year, the Michigan state legislature failed to pass a proposed marijuana legislation ballot initiative, opting instead to turn the issue over to Michigan voters to ultimately be decided in the upcoming general election.
Supporters of the initiative argue that legalizing recreational cannabis would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual tax revenue for the state of Michigan. In addition to making recreational cannabis legal for adult use, the passage of the proposition would also include the imposition of a 10% excise sales tax that would be applied to all recreational cannabis sales. In Colorado, where recreational cannabis has been legal since 2014, the amount of tax revenue that has been generated as a direct consequence of medical and recreational cannabis sales has been substantial. In 2017, in the state of Colorado, the total amount of tax revenue generated by combined marijuana taxes, licenses, and fees exceeded $153 million. This tax revenue was subsequently used to support underfunded public programs, including financial support for public housing and addiction treatment, as well as funding devoted solely to the construction of public schools. Supporters would like to see a similar outcome for taxpayers in the state of Michigan.
Conservative groups such as Healthy and Productive Michigan have expressed strong opposition to the passage of the proposition to legalize recreational cannabis. According to their website, Prop 1 would be the most generous recreational cannabis legislation in existence, allowing for the legal possession of approximately 10 ounces of cannabis, more than any other state in the country. If the ballot passes, Michigan will become the 10th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Other states which have already legalized recreational cannabis include Washington, Oregon, Colorado, California, Nevada, Alaska, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine. Recreational cannabis is also legal in Washington, D.C.