Group wants 2016 vote on MI pot legalization


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A group is pushing for a proposal to legalize marijuana in Michigan to be on the ballot in 2016.

The initiative would legalize, tax and regulate the growth and use of recreational weed. It would also preserve and protect medical marijuana use.

The Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative says it is confident the measure would pass if voters get a chance to have their say.

“We’re going to end cannabis prohibition as we know it,” Jeffery Henry of the Initiative said.

The initiative would allow adults 21 and older to grow up to 12 plants on their own, similar to someone making their own beer or wine. Growing more plants would require a license.

“We certainly don’t believe in any  crony capitalism or a cartel kind of market that would eliminate jobs,” Henry said.

The group says the initiative would create 25,000 jobs and bring in an additional $100,000 to $200,000 in revenue for the state that could go to fixing roads and funding schools.

In addition to the economic benefits, the group said legalization would improve public safety, freeing up officers from marijuana cases and allowing them to focus on other problems.

“That has already been taken out of play in the city of Grand Rapids,” Grand Rapids Police Department Lt. Pat Merrill said.

In 2013, Grand Rapids decriminalized marijuana, making it a civil infraction rather than a criminal offense. That has decreased GRPD’s  marijuana case load by 70 percent.

(Four states and Washington, D.C. have already legalized marijuana for recreational use. Colorado voters were the first to do it. In the first year of legalization there, consumers bought 17 tons of recreational marijuana.)
(Four states and Washington, D.C. have already legalized marijuana for recreational use. Colorado voters were the first to do it. In the first year of legalization there, consumers bought 17 tons of recreational marijuana, which translates to $44 million in tax revenue.)

But officers still have marijuana cases and that won’t change if it becomes legal.

“Doesn’t make it a no-holds-barred zone,” Merrill explained. “There’s still issues you have to deal with.”

The Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative is working to finalize the language of the proposal. It hopes to start collecting signatures this summer.

GRPD said it doesn’t take stances on political issues. It says its officers are public servants who enforce the laws that are made.

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