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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

V.G.I.P. UPDATE - by Ben Horner

    MI Legalize turned in over 350 thousand signatures for its petition to legalize cannabis for adult use on June first.  This is a tremendous accomplishment for a grass roots endeavor. Thousand of volunteers worked along side paid professional petition circulators for almost one year. The big question now is will the Board of Canvassers honor all the signatures, or will MI Legalize have to litigate.

     Controversy regarding the so called 180 day rule began this spring when a challenge to the current procedure was made by the Committee to Ban Fracking in conjunction with MI Legalize. According to the rule, signatures that are older then 180 days are considered “stale and void,” but can be rehabilitated via a notarized affidavit resigned by the original signer of the petition. Attorney Jeff Hank, board chair of MI Legalize, as well as several others proposed changing the state policy for signatures using the qualified voter file, which is a digital database of all registered voters in the state of Michigan. This proposal failed along party lines, during a Board of Canvassers meeting this year.

     Jeff Hank and several other lawyers specializing in cannabis laws in Michigan feel confident that winning a legal challenge based on the constitutional conflicts. However, litigation takes time.  SB 770 was passed by both the house and senate, which would close any loopholes on the 180 rule, but has yet to be sign into law by the Governor, which helps MI Legalize in a litigation situation.

     Only about half of the signatures collected by MI legalize are current, but even if all are considered legal then they still have to have a validity of over 71% if they successful in court. Despite all of these challenges, and even if the petition doesn’t make the ballot this year, what MI Legalize has accomplished is historic for a grass roots campaign. VGIP has donated to MI Legalize as well as Abrogate Michigan, which has until July 5th to continue to gather signatures.

     Tim Locke, chairman of Abrogate Michigan, hopes that people will continue to gather signatures for the constitutional amendment. According to both parties, there is no conflict legally with both petitions being on the ballot.



 

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