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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Will The Great Lakes State Legalize in 2016? - by Ben Horner

     The MMM Report reached out to MI Legalize, MCC and MRC and asked them: How does your organization envision legalized recreational marijuana in Michigan and why is now the right time?

Here are their responses:

     “We believe that this petition is the complete package. It designates a tax structure that is target to roads and education. We did not want to leave that up to the bozos in Lansing. We cover all the angles and put the regulations in the hands of the local communities. It also creates a system where the average entrepreneur can participate by capping licensing fees to $5000 for marijuana facilities.

     We believe that this is the right time based on comprehensive polling data and in a large part because of our successful campaigns in Oakland County. Our plan is based on personal freedom and fairness.”

-Debra Young, Treasurer for MI Legalize

     “Signature gathering for MILegalize is progressing rapidly. Many boxes of signatures have gone to the company that we have hired for validation; we don’t have firm numbers back at this time.

     We will be getting our signatures by all three methods, volunteers (over a thousand of them...we need you!), a paid company, and people that we supervise and pay a dollar per sig. Michigan voters will be able to choose the best cannabis law reform initiative ever - rather than choose between lousy alternatives. We are hiring serious people at a dollar per signature.”

-Chuck Ream, MI Legalize
     “MCC believes that once marijuana has been legalized and the structures for regulation and taxation have been put in place, the principles of the free-market will create and support a marijuana industry in Michigan.  The economic benefit to everyone in Michigan, regardless of whether they use marijuana or not, will be between $200-$800 million in new revenue. The estimated savings to law enforcement is expected to be between $60-$125 million.

     Later on in the campaign, we will release our numbers on what the projected growth is expected to be for businesses in areas like irrigation, lighting, security, construction and architecture. In short, the MCC envisions a regulated and taxed legal marijuana market will look a lot like Michigan’s micro-brew industry.

    As for the timing, there are a number of reasons why now is the right moment. First off is the general change within societal views towards marijuana. The scare tactics of old and the rationale for the decades long “war on drugs” are no longer embraced by a majority of society. Furthermore, the inequality surrounding arrests and incarceration for marijuana possession and related offenses has been raised to a level of consciousness that now allows for legalization to be seen as a remedy for social injustice.

     The reason we are a coalition is because while we all support the legalization of marijuana in Michigan, the reasons for why we support it are varied and different.

     Second, the fact that other states have successfully legalized marijuana provides additional comfort to those who weren’t sure how legalization would work. While our initiative was crafted to be Michigan specific, there are a number of things that can be learned from others experiences.

     When people can look to Colorado and Washington and see increased revenue, decreased crime, and reduction in rates of incarceration, new industries being created and investment dollars supporting local marijuana related businesses, it becomes easier to see the benefits of legalization in Michigan.

     With all of that said, legalizing marijuana in Michigan is not an easy sell. Studies show that people remain wary of the impact of legalization. People in Michigan strongly favor a regulated and taxed, free-market approach. Conversely, the majority in Michigan rejects a “cartel”, “big-box” approach just as they reject a loosely regulated market that has few checks and balances.

     So while societal attitudes have changed and old arguments are falling by the wayside, legalization of marijuana in Michigan will only occur if the people believe that the proposed initiative will provide an economic benefit while also being properly regulated.”

–Matt Madsen, coalition leader for the MCC     

     “MRC believes 2016 is a tipping point election year. The poll numbers are now in our favor. The voting public is ripe for change, assuming it is done the right way. It is imperative the 88% of the voting public who are not regular cannabis users feel safe in voting YES to end cannabis prohibition.

     We believe overwhelming support exists for a carefully regulated system, based upon a model which is already understood. Our proposal will regulate legal cannabis, the way alcoholic beverages are now regulated. That is the best way to protect kids, reduce prohibition-created criminal activity and maximize tax revenue. We want every community in Michigan to be the best that it can be.”

-Tim Beck, consultant for the MRC


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