Michigan May Put Legalization on the November Ballot

Published on June 1, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A group trying to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan said it turned in enough valid signatures just before the Wednesday deadline to place the issue before voters on the November ballot.

But whether the state considers the roughly 354,000 signatures valid is another question, because a bill presented to Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday would stop such groups from counting signatures older than 180 days.

Current law allows the group, MI Legalize, to count older signatures toward the roughly 253,000 they need to put the measure before voters. However, neither Snyder's office nor the Secretary of State's office would say whether the bill before Snyder would apply to the legalize marijuana group.

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

"We would review the effect of the public act if petitions are turned in and the bill is signed," said Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams.

He said the state still has to review petition sheets and pull a sample of signatures to verify validity, and adds that people can also challenge signatures before the office makes a report to the state Board of Canvassers which votes on whether the group has enough valid signatures.

Jeffrey Hank, the group's director, said they turned in about 200,000 signatures older than 180 days. But he stresses that current law allows them to count those signatures toward the filing requirement, and said even if Snyder signs the bill it wouldn't apply to them. The group wouldn't have enough signatures to make the ballot if the older ones aren't counted.

"It's been a long journey," Hank said. We started this thing with a dollar and a dream … you don't do this for fun. It was a lot of work."

Snyder's office said the governor is still deciding whether to sign the bill that stops such groups from counting signatures older than 180 days.

Hank said they may pursue litigation if the Secretary of State doesn't accept their signatures, which he says are valid.

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