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Why Michigan Republicans Are Pushing For Legalizing Pot


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f you marvel at the way Americans who once disdained same-sex marriage have made peace with it, stay tuned: You ain't seen nothing yet.

After idling for decades, the campaign to decriminalize marijuana is suddenly approaching warp speed across the United States — and Michiganders who scoffed at the notion just a few election cycles ago are scrambling to get aboard the bandwagon before it blows past.

Michigan voters will likely get to pick next year from at least two rival legalization proposals. Interestingly, both of the ballot committees organized to date are backed by campaign strategists with deep roots in the state's Republican mainstream — another indication of how quickly the cause of legal cannabis has morphed from counter-culture pipe dream to free-market poster child.

Related: GOP-controlled House backs state medical marijuana laws

Even if champions of legalization get their way, Michigan would scarcely be a trendsetter. Ohioans could vote as early as this November to join Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia in decriminalizing the sale, use and possession of marijuana for recreational use. Legalization initiatives appear likely to be on the ballot in at least a dozen additional states, including Michigan, the following November.

The first of two ballot committees hoping to place legalization measures on Michigan's November 2016 ballot will submit petition language to the State Board of Canvassers this Thursday. Matt Marsden, a spokesman for the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, says his group hired "the best signature-collection firm in the country" to begin circulating petitions at outdoor markets and other public venues as early as next Saturday.

Longtime Republican strategist Paul Welday says he and GOP fund-raiser Suzie Mitchell represent a second group of investors that has developed a rival legalization proposal, but he adds that the group hasn't decided whether or when it will submit its own petition language to the board of canvassers, which oversees the initiative process.

Neither of the ballot committees has yet identified its principal bankrollers, who will likely need millions of dollars to finance a successful legalization campaign.

But Marsden, Welday and Mitchell are all venerable fixtures of Michigan's Republican establishment. Marsden worked for former Gov. John Engler before serving as the chief spokesman for then-Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and his successor, Sen. Randy Richardville. Welday is a fixture in Republican circles who served as former U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenburg's chief of staff before becoming chairman of the Oakland County Republican Party. Mitchell, wife of Republican pollster Steve Mitchell, is a fund-raiser with deep experience in southeast Michigan's GOP moneybelt.

Just four years ago, most Republican strategists recoiled at the prospect of a state referendum on recreational marijuana. Besides opposing legalization on policy grounds, they worried that such a referendum would be a draw for young people and liberal voters least likely to support GOP candidates.

But Marsden says his ballot committee's internal polling has found growing support for legalization among independent voters, as well as his own party's libertarian wing. Republicans need both groups to be competitive in statewide races.

The Michigan Cannabis Coalition hopes to attract free-market enthusiasts to its cause by spreading the economic opportunities afforded by a fledgling legal market in marijuana as widely as possible.

The petition that state canvassers will take up Thursday would give a newly created Cannabis Control Commission 18 months to establish rules regulating the manufacture, sale and taxation of marijuana. But Marsden says that his coalition envisions an industry with few barriers to entry, except for those with criminal records.

"Growing marijuana is not an easy thing to do," he says, "but we think that if you have the skills, the wherewithal and the experience, you should have the opportunity to try and start this new industry."

The group Welday and Mitchell represent hasn't revealed the details of its own regulatory vision. But Welday confirmed in a phone interview late last week that it will more closely resemble the legalization proposal a group called Responsible Ohio will put before voters there this fall. That proposal would restrict Ohio's commercial production of marijuana to 10 sites owned or controlled by Responsible Ohio's financial backers, who include Columbus real estate developer Rick Kirk and former NBA star Oscar Robertson.

"The fundamental premise is that if it's going to be legal, it should be regulated and taxed like alcohol," Welday told me. He said his group favors the establishment of "something like the Liquor Control Commission," which oversees an industry that has spawned some of Michigan's greatest private fortunes, as well as one of its most powerful political lobbies.

Both the Cannabis Coalition and Welday's group are betting that the moral disapproval with which many older Michiganders view marijuana is giving way to pragmatic consensus that the drug is widely available, increasingly legal, and practically begging to lavish its latent tax revenues on Michigan before other states vacuum them up.

Marsden says his group wants to be careful not to exaggerate the windfall that legalization would create for Michigan's treasury. The coalition's best estimate is that roughly 12% of Michigan adults over the age of 21 would purchase legal marijuana for personal use, generating somewhere between $200 million and $800 million in tax revenue each year.

But he insists that any benefits Michigan derives from the status quo will vanish as other states join the legalization bandwagon. Already, he notes, states whose neighbors have decriminalized marijuana are finding it increasingly expensive and impractical to hold the line.

"We can have none of Colorado's benefits and all of Nebraska's headaches," Marsden says. "That's really the choice we're talking about."

 

http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/brian-dickerson/2015/06/06/republican-marijuana-advocates/28575287/

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The first of two ballot committees hoping to place legalization measures on Michigan's November 2016 ballot will submit petition language to the State Board of Canvassers this Thursday. Matt Marsden, a spokesman for the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, says his group hired "the best signature-collection firm in the country" to begin circulating petitions at outdoor markets and other public venues as early as next Saturday.

 

should have hired someone to review their language.

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Unfortunately, that is the situation now. The best a ballot initiative can do is specifically say the MMMA stands as written, and not contribute to enabling their future behavior.

 

Every election is crucially important to us. It is hard for me to envision a time when that will not be the case, but I certainly hope for it.

 

 

Thanks

 

i also hope that Voting will not be taken away from us or even makes it harder for others to be a prat of it  Hope is what makes us  US 

Edited by bobandtorey
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Sorry, I couldn't resist ......

 

Michigan Cannabis Coalition, says his group hired "the best signature-collection firm in the country" to begin circulating petitions at outdoor markets and other public venues as early as next Saturday.

 

 

Theirs a lot of us in the movement that does need money for  everything day things  that makes us  Live

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I saw a lawyer from Honigman on a video the other day being interviewed about the initiative, so they did have people who know write the language. I certainly prefer the rhetoric here over the other initiatives.

explain to me how their proposal protects marijuana facility employees and owners if they leave a door open to their grow room.

 

i'm assuming its similar to how patients in the mmma are protected if they leave their grow room unsecured. except the mmma has an affirm defense while these guys ? not so much.

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their proposal also redefines marijuana, a constitutional challenge no doubt

(the MMMA merely cites the phc)

 

(4) "Marihuana" means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., growing or not; the seeds of that plant; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin. Marihuana does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks, except the resin extracted from those stalks, fiber, oil, or cake, or any sterilized seed of the plant that is incapable of germination. Marihuana does not include industrial hemp grown or cultivated, or both, for research purposes under the industrial hemp research act.

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their proposal has

definition of marihuana.... every ... mixture or preparation of the plant ... or its resin, including marihuana concentrate.

 

and then

definition of marihuana infused products ... products containing marihuana and any other lawful ingredients ... intended for human consumption or topical use.

 

so marihuana brownie, is it marihuana or marihuana infused product? both? infused only? who knows.

 

it comes into play later because the new language will no doubt seperate possession and use in specific areas.

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