Although a proposed ballot measure seeking to legalize marijuana across Michigan for recreational purposes failed to get in front of the voters this year, the word on the street is that the Marijuana Policy Project, the national cannabis advocacy group largely responsible for Colorado’s legal pot market, is considering jumping in to get the deed done in 2018.
In the coming months, the MPP will pick up where it left off eight years ago, when the group led the campaign to bring medical marijuana to the Great Lake State, by embarking on a three city tour to discuss with advocates the drafting of a new initiative intended to bring down prohibition in Michigan. The tour is scheduled to make stops in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and Detroit.
“We’re exploring teaming up with local advocates to make history again, and giving voters a chance to [make] Michigan the first in the Midwest to legalize and regulate marijuana,” Karen O’Keefe, MPP director of state policies, told HIGH TIMES in a statement. “In December, MPP’s executive director and I will hold a listening tour to discuss preliminary thoughts for a November 2018 initiative, and to hear from advocates.”
There was a great deal of hope this year that Michigan would legalize a full-scale cannabis industry in November, but MILegalize, the group responsible for running the campaign, simply could not escape the obstacles inflicted by the state government. However, the organization told MLive in September that it plans to make a comeback in 2018.
What remains clear is the majority of Michigan is prepared to get behind a proposal to legalize marijuana. Some of the public opinion polls published over the past few months show anywhere between 53 and 57 percent of the state’s population would likely cast a favorable ballot if the issue of legalizing weed in a manner similar to beer was put in front of them in an election. Sixty-three percent of the voters said “yes” to medical marijuana in 2008.
If Michigan legalizes a full-scale cannabis market, some of the latest financial forecasts show the state could be in a position of enjoying somewhere around $63 million in annual tax revenue. Some analysts predict that, with the recent regulations signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder, the state is already on its way to becoming the third-largest medical marijuana market in the nation within the next four years, just behind California and Colorado.
In Colorado, where marijuana is legal for both recreational and medicinal use, the local economy has experienced a wealth of growth, which comes with thousands of new jobs. A recent report from the Detroit Free Press suggests the Michigan economy is starting to improve, but most cities across the state are still struggling to keep their heads above water.
But a legal cannabis market could fill the void.
“Michigan voters are increasingly recognizing that marijuana prohibition is a costly failure,” O’Keefe said. “Replacing prohibition with sensible regulation will boost the state’s economy, creating tens of thousands of jobs and generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue.”
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