Michigan Legislature Punts Legalization Measure to November Ballot

Published on June 5, 2018 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Michigan flag waving in front of the beautiful dome of the Capitol Building in downtown Lansing, the capital of Michigan.

Michigan state legislators couldn’t muster the votes to pass cannabis legalization in Michigan this evening, so the issue will go before voters statewide in November.

Earlier this year, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) turned in enough signatures to put adult-use legalization on the statewide ballot. According to Michigan law, state legislators have 40 days to adopt their own measure on the issue. If they don’t, the measure goes to the ballot. Legislators had until the close of business on June 5 to pass the measure.

Passage in the legislature was always considered a longshot. Republican House Speaker Tom Leonard said it would take a “marijuana miracle” for the House to vote on it by Tuesday’s deadline. Republicans, who control both chambers, are divided on the issue and Democratic leaders want voters to decide.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, had earlier said he had enough Republican votes in the state Senate to pass the ballot initiative, which the legislature could later amend to mirror Michigan’s existing regulations for medical marijuana.

At stake is how recreational marijuana would be regulated. If it were passed by voters in November, future changes would require the support of three-fourths of both chambers of the legislature. If the legislature were to pass the measure, which would not require the governor’s signature to become law because it is a ballot initiative, legislators could later amend the law through simple majority votes.

“While we would have been happy to see our initiative passed by the legislature as written, we are confident Michigan voters understand that marijuana prohibition has been an absolute disaster and that they will agree that taxing and regulating marijuana is a far better solution,” said CRMLA spokesperson Josh Hovey.

“Multiple polls show that roughly 60 percent of Michigan voters want to see marijuana legalized and regulated but, as we saw with the legislative debates these past few week, there is still a lot of misinformation out there,” Hovey added. “The fact is that our proposal is carefully written to be a model for responsible cannabis regulations and closely follows the medical marijuana licensing law passed by the state legislature in 2016.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Leafly Staff
Leafly Staff
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