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More On Legalization, Bill Being Introduced

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LANSING, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A controversial topic is heating up once again--the legalization of marijuana in Michigan.


People can smoke marijuana in Michigan for medical purposes, but now one state lawmaker is pushing to make recreational use legal as well.


"Our efforts at marijuana prohibition are a huge failure," said Democratic Representative Jeff Irwin.


That's one of the reasons Rep. Irwin believes recreational use and growth of marijuana should be legalized in Michigan.


"Every year, we spend in the state of Michigan, we spend $100-300 million a year arresting and prosecuting marijuana users," he said.


The state lawmaker says he plans to soon introduce a bill, using Colorado as model, with some changes.


"I want to introduce a lower tax, so the rationale for both buyers and sellers to meet in the legal marketplace," he said.


"I don't believe we need another social drug in michigan," said Republican State Senator Rick Jones, of Grand Ledge.


Sen. Jones does believes it will end up on the ballot in 2016, but says the problems associated with legalizing marijuana far outweigh the benefits.


"Just like what's happening in Colorado, there will be more drugged driving, more accidents because of it," he said.


"If it gets to the legislation, this will be one of the more active debates you've heard in a very long time," said Western Michigan's Dr. C. Dennis Simpson, who oversees the Specialty Program in Alcohol and Drug Abuse at the university.


According to Dr. Simpson, if a bill legalizing recreational marijuana use does pass, there is no doubt there would be tremendous benefits for a state like Michigan.


"From the economic standpoint, and if you tax it highly, you could pay for roads, you could pay for a lot of things that we do around here in Michigan," he said.


Rep. Irwin says he plans to introduce the bill in the next few weeks.



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