Marijuana legalization petition signatures approved by state board

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A petition to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana has enough signatures to move forward, a state board determined Thursday.

In a 4-0 vote, Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers voted to approve signatures submitted by The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol at its Thursday meeting. The vote was immediately followed by whoops and cheers from supporters of marijuana legalization.

The petition would legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana. Those over 21 could use marijuana, but would still be unable to consume it in a public place or drive under the influence.

Local governments would decide whether or not to allow these businesses within their boundaries, and then the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs would regulate those businesses.

To move forward, the coalition needed 252,523 signatures. A Bureau of Elections review found the group turned in 365,384 signatures. After excluding 3,282 signatures for errors, its review of a 500-signature sample concluded the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol had enough to move forward.

No formal challenges were filed to the petition, although some opposed the concept of recreational marijuana at the board hearing. Scott Greenlee of Healthy and Productive Michigan, a group opposing recreational marijuana legalization, told the board the proposal is “fundamentally flawed.”

“If enacted, the law would immediately be in violation of federal laws and the constitution,” he said.

Greenlee later told reporters his group is considering legal action against the coalition as an option.

Coalition spokesperson John Truscott said in a statement the decision gives voters the chance to eliminate Michigan’s existing marijuana laws.

“Just like with alcohol, it is clear that prohibition doesn’t work and that regulation and taxation is a far better solution,” Truscott said.

The petition language now moves to the state legislature, which has 40 days to consider the plan before it moves to the ballot for voter approval. Some lawmakers have considered the possibility of legalizing recreational marijuana before the 40-day window is up, but it’s unclear whether that will happen.

Jeff Hank of MILegalize said following the board’s decision that he would support the legislature passing as is or making improvements to the proposal – “This prohibition should be over today,” he said.

But he said he wouldn’t want lawmakers to take away the hard work that’s been done to make it a plan that’s acceptable for Michigan voters who want to legalize marijuana.

“People are tired of the shenanigans,” he said. “The majority of people in the state of Michigan support it.”

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