Michigan’s Recreational Marijuana Initiative Likely Doomed for 2016


Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

There has been a great deal of hope this year that Michigan was on its way to becoming the first state to bring down the scourge of prohibition in the Midwest, but the organization responsible for swinging haymakers at the issue for the past several months has learned that its effort to put a recreational marijuana ballot measure in front of the voting public this November will likely go up in smoke.

A report from the Detroit News indicates that a Michigan judge has dismissed a lawsuit submitted by MILegalize intended to get the bulk of its petitions reinstated. The group recently submitted more than enough signatures to qualify for a spot on the ballot later this fall, but a new law clarifying the state’s 180-day window for signature collecting campaigns seems to have sabotaged the majority of the work behind the group’s proposal.

Judge Stephen Borrello with the Michigan Court of Claims said the lawsuit filed by the folks of MILegalize did not hold any weight because the state was not obligated to give any consideration to the 200,000 signatures the group collected outside of the 180-day time frame.

Pointing out a 30-year-old precedent handed down by the Michigan Supreme Court, Borello said, “The purity of elections is an important state interest that is furthered by the rebuttable presumption that signatures more than 180 days old are stale and void.”

However, the judge’s dismissal may have been a bit hasty, especially considering that the 180-day rule was not exactly unambiguous at the time the group was busy collecting signatures. It was only after the state legislature put a rush job on a bill a few months ago intended to tighten up a loophole in the signature collecting process that this situation spiraled into a major issue. In fact, before Governor Rick Snyder signed the new law back in June, the rule was never challenged.

It is for that reason that MILegalize is still refusing to lie down and politely accept defeat. According to the Detroit Free Press, MILegalize is planning to file an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court in a last ditch effort to keep its ballot measure alive and kicking into the November election.

But while this fight from the bottom is admirable and, by all accounts, necessary to keep a set of teeth on the neck of the state government, there does not appear to be much hope that MILegalize will successfully manage to pull it off in 2016. That’s because there is only about two more weeks left before city clerks finalize the state’s absentee ballots and get them printed before mailing them out toward the end of September.

Therefore, it seems more likely that MILegalize will retool its campaign and concentrate on getting the issue of legal marijuana in front of the voters in 2018.

5 Comments Hide Comments
  • Al

    Forgive my ignorance, but why would they not shoot for 2017 rather than waiting until 2018 to try again? Especially in this case where you have to have the signatures within that 180 day period, there don’t seem to be many benefits to having a longer time to prepare.

    • Jamie

      The 180 day issue is being challenged. There is election law nuances that have to do with the length of petitioning time as outlined in the constitution and a restrictive board of canvassers policy that disallows the ability to utilize all rights contained in the state constitution.

      If MILegalize wins, but misses 2016- unless the court orders a special election- it has to be a general election either presidential or gubernatorial. The good news for that would be -no need to petition again, but it still can and should be on this year’s’ ballot.

  • Jamie

    The campaign’s legal challenge is in the hands of the state Supreme Court. The court is looking at serious voter suppression issues. The significance is far greater than just bring more sensible cannabis policy to Michigan.

    Getting on the November 2016 ballot is still quite possible.

    http://www.MILegalize.com

  • Travis Drake

    CROOKED assed state, CROOKED assed County of Monroe, CROOKED assed cops… what else did you expect from a bunch of twats???

    • Travis Drake

      Guess what? we gonna do it anyways, you cannot stop us!

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