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.