This year, MPP was instrumental in passing a number of marijuana policy reform initiatives around the country. We are very interested in bringing our expertise to Michigan for a November 2018 initiative. We’d like to team up with local advocates and make Michigan the first in the Midwest to replace prohibition with sensible regulation.
In mid-December, MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia and Director of State Policies Karen O'Keefe will hold public forums in three major Michigan cities to hear from local advocates, and to discuss what it’ll take to legalize marijuana in the Great Lakes State.
This year, the Michigan Legislature will again have an opportunity to pass much-needed protections for medical marijuana patients and providers. Two bills will be presented in the coming days — one would help ensure that patients have regular and safe access to their medicine through provisioning centers, and another would create clear legal protections for marijuana extracts, a key ingredient in tinctures, edibles, and topicals. MPP strongly supports both these efforts.
[caption id="attachment_8534" align="alignright" width="197"] Rep. Mike Callton[/caption]
Rep. Mike Callton will again sponsor a bill to clearly allow and regulate medical marijuana provisioning centers. Rep. Lisa Lyons has stepped forward to sponsor a bill that ensures that extractions and the products made from them clearly fall under the definition of medical marijuana. Unfortunately, heavy lobbying efforts in the closing days of the 2014 legislative session by the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police and the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association succeeded in derailing these popular efforts late last year, despite the hard work by advocates and strong support from both legislators and the governor’s office.
The state’s seriously ill patients deserve better than a continuation of the same patchwork policies, and cities like Detroit have been particularly vocal about the need for reform.
Congratulations to organizers Debra Young and Tim Beck and to the many activists who helped make these victories possible!
Hazel Park and Oak Park represent the first of 17 cities in which similar measures either have or will likely be added to the ballot. For a complete list of cities and the measures’ current statuses, click here. These wins in Oak Park and Hazel Park follow an uninterrupted streak of victories in Michigan cities in recent years, including Lansing, Ferndale, Jackson, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Flint.
These votes do not change state law — which still makes criminals of people who choose a substance that is safer than alcohol and many prescription drugs. But they send a very important message to local law enforcement authorities, elected officials, and state government: Voters are sick and tired of the failure of the prohibition on marijuana and want change!
In other good news for sensible marijuana policies, Congressmen Justin Amash (R) and Dan Benishek (R) — who co-sponsor the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act — survived primary challenges.
Advocates across the state of Michigan are hitting the streets in a major push to gather signatures that would decriminalize possession of small amounts marijuana in up to 18 cities. They have until July 29 to get the signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. If you have not gotten involved already, it’s not too late to help!
Three communities out of the 18 have already qualified. The current effort follows similar campaigns in numerous other cities in years past. Last year, voters in Lansing, Ferndale, and Jackson voted overwhelmingly in favor decriminalization measures. In 2012, voters supported similar voter initiatives in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Flint. MPP wishes to thank everyone involved in this tremendous grassroots effort that is sweeping communities in Michigan!
While election day saw an overwhelming amount of media coverage surrounding marijuana issues, some of the details were confusing to people not living in those states, so here are the details for Michigan. Three cities in Michigan voted to remove criminal penalties associated with possession or transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana. The ordinances apply to those 21 and over on private property. Ferndale and Jackson voters passed city ordinances by 69% and 61% respectively, while voters in the capital city, Lansing, passed an amendment to their city charter with 63% of the vote. Ferndale, Jackson, and Lansing all join the ranks of other Michigan cities like Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, and Kalamazoo, which had previously removed criminal penalties associated with marijuana possession or set marijuana as the lowest law enforcement priority.
Law enforcement is still able to enforce state and federal laws against marijuana, but local cops have the option to follow these ordinances and not charge adults for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Activists will be playing close attention to whether or not they heed the will of the voters.
Once again, government officials are trying to suppress the will of voters when it comes to marijuana issues. The Detroit Free Pressreports today that the Detroit Election Commission has voted 3-0 to reject a November ballot initiative that would have given city voters a chance to decide whether to allow adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana.
Members of the commission said they were following a recommendation by the city's Law Department, which said the proposal was pre-empted by state law forbidding possession of the drug. Detroit attorney Matt Abel, a petition organizer, said: "This would have sent a message to the police that they should focus on more serious crime." Abel said he and others behind the proposal were considering filing an appeal in Wayne County Circuit Court.
In November, Oregon voters will have an opportunity to vote on a measure that would improve access for medical marijuana patients by allowing the creation of nonprofit, state-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries. The official name for the ballot question will be Measure 28.
This positive news expands the number of local elections this year that will have marijuana-related questions on the ballot. To review:
In California, voters will consider Proposition 19, which would make it legal for adults 21 and over to use and grow marijuana for personal use, as well as allow local governments to tax and regulate the drug.
In South Dakota and Arizona, voters will have a chance to add their states to the list of those with effective medical marijuana laws, potentially bringing the total number nationwide to 16 (plus the District of Columbia).
And in Detroit, voters will decide whether to make it legal for adults to possess up to one ounce of marijuana in the city.
Most polling so far has been very encouraging. Be sure to go out and vote if you live in one of these states. Everyone else, tune-in for the results on November 2!
A ballot initiative in Detroit that would make it legal for adults to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use has been certified by city election officials, according to local reports.
A local group called Coalition for a Safer Detroit turned in more than 6,000 signatures to place the initiative on November’s ballot. According to the Detroit News, the City Council now has 30 days to pass the initiative into law or it will be up to voters to pass it in November.
Should the initiative pass, Detroit will join the growing ranks of cities that are now taking it upon themselves to implement sensible marijuana laws in the absence of federal leadership.