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Michigan May Legalize Recreational Marijuana Before November Ballot

In an effort to suppress a weed voter bump, Michigan may legalize recreational marijuana before November ballot.

Adam Drury

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Michigan May Legalize Recreational Marijuana Before November Ballot

What seems on its surface like an early win for cannabis advocates in Michigan may, in fact, be an attempt to rig the state’s upcoming general election. The question of legalizing recreational marijuana will appear on the November ballot, and voters are expected to turn out to register their support. But the prospect of higher voter turnout has some GOP lawmakers in Lansing worried. Concerned better turnout could impact other races, they’ve begun discussing ways to take legalization off the ballot. But broad support for the issue leaves them with just one move. And that’s why Michigan may legalize recreational marijuana before November ballot.

In A Bid To Suppress Voter Turnout, GOP Lawmakers Want To Legalize Weed Early

Historically, higher voter turnouts tend to favor more liberal or progressive candidates. In other words, more voters typically means more Democrats in office.

No wonder Republican-controlled state legislatures have made voter-suppression tactics a staple of their political strategy. And their efforts have accelerated in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Voter-suppression tactics include things like closing polling locations, issuing strict ID laws, voter purging and disenfranchisement. Gerrymandering, or the redrawing of election districts to favor particular candidates, is another way of distorting democratic representation.

And in these areas, Michigan is one of the worst. In December 2016, Michigan’s Republican-led House passed some of the nation’s strictest voter ID laws in the face of strong objections from Democrats and civil society groups. ID requirements tend to make it harder for minority, elderly, and student voters—groups that tend to vote Democrat—to cast their ballots.

And in April 2017, The Center for Michigan found that gerrymandering in the state is among the nation’s worst. The report shows how districts dramatically and disproportionately favor Republicans.

Put plainly, Michigan Republicans have a documented history of using extreme voter-suppression tactics. And one could argue these have already had a major impact on U.S. democracy. Donald Trump won Michigan by just 10,704 votes.

GOP Lawmakers In Lansing Fear Putting Legal Weed On The Ballot Could Flip The House

The fewer voters the better, as far as GOP lawmakers in Michigan are concerned. But nothing tends to rock the vote quite like a vote on legal recreational marijuana.

All the recent polls show overwhelming support for legal recreational in Michigan. So much so, in fact, that if the vote were to happen today, the measure would pass overwhelmingly.

But polls show another interesting thing about the issue of legal weed in Michigan. Namely, that it could drive voter turnout enough to impact other races.

And in an unpredictable election year many feel could be a wave election flipping state assemblies for the Democrats, some Republicans are viewing the pot voter boost as a legitimate concern.

A few GOP lawmakers in Lansing have already begun discussing whether they should attempt to legalize weed through a legislative process ahead of the state’s general election in November.

In other words, Michigan may legalize recreational marijuana before November ballot in an attempt to keep voters who would otherwise come out to support the ballot, home

Experts expect races will be tight this November. So even a two to three percent boost in voter turnout could make the difference in many districts and cause Republicans to lose the House.

The Final Hit: Michigan May Legalize Recreational Marijuana Before November Ballot

So far, the question of whether to legislatively pass recreational cannabis has been a behind-closed-doors topic among Republican lawmakers. “I don’t think it’s reached critical mass at this point,” said political consultant Dennis Darnoi.

Indeed, deep divisions persist among the caucus over the issue of recreational weed. But concerns over losing the House might be enough to overcome them. Michigan Republicans have previously tried to move a legalization bill through the legislature with no success.

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