Michigan Elections Board Rejects Legalization Measure

Published on June 9, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020

UPDATE, June 9, 2016: 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan's elections board says a ballot drive to legalize marijuana for recreational use did not collect enough valid voter signatures to qualify for a statewide vote in November.

The Board of State Canvassers voted 4-0 Thursday to reject the petitions.

The Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee contends that 137,000 of its signatures are still valid despite being older than 180 days. The group may sue.

Another group gathering signatures for the 2018 ballot to prohibit the drilling process known as fracking has sued, saying the 180-day time limit is unconstitutional. Gov. Rick Snyder this week signed legislation setting a firm 180-day window, no longer allowing for the possibility that groups can show that voters were registered at the time they signed a petition older than 180 days.


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Original story, published June 7, 2016:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A group trying to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Michigan might not be able to put the measure before voters on the November ballot after the state elections bureau released an unfavorable report and Gov. Rick Snyder Tuesday signed into law a bill that might rule out thousands of signatures the group submitted last week.

On Tuesday, the state Bureau of Elections recommended in a report that the Board of State Canvassers — which has the authority to approve the petition for voter consideration — reject the petition because the group, MI Legalize, didn't submit enough valid signatures before the deadline. The report said MI Legalize couldn't prove that more than 100,000 signatures it collected were actually signed by registered voters.

Also on Tuesday, Snyder signed a bill that stops groups like MI Legalize from counting signatures gathered outside of a 180-day timeframe toward the roughly 250,000 it needs to qualify for voter consideration on a statewide ballot. Without counting signatures gathered outside of that window, MI Legalize does not meet the state's required signature threshold, and the issue can't go before voters in November.

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The bill Snyder signed into law was drafted after lawmakers learned the marijuana group was attempting to use a legal loophole allowing it to count signatures gathered outside of that 180-day window to meet the signature requirement.

But it's still unclear if the law applies to MI Legalize. Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's office said that the office is reviewing the legislation to see if it would apply to that group and render many of its signatures void.

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MI Legalize says they've collected about 354,000 signatures — exceeding the minimum requirement. The group has said that it may pursue litigation.

The Board of State Canvassers meets Thursday to consider the issue.

Michigan already has a law allowing marijuana for medical use but this measure would legalize recreational marijuana.

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