An organization established to fight the decriminalization of cannabis had a sudden change of heart and decided that it will support the legalization of the adult use of the substance as long as the proposal is taken up and amended by the lawmakers.
The Committee to Keep Pot Out of Neighborhoods and Schools is a group of political activists against the legalization of marijuana. It was formed to oppose the ballot proposal that would legalize cannabis in the state but it seems that their opinions regarding the substance finally changed.
Michigan lawmakers are encouraged by the organization to take up the proposal, amend it, and pass a complete legalization law for the adult use of cannabis.
The committee believes that if the legislature enacts this law, the adult use of cannabis will finally be governed and regulated closely as the medical cannabis industry.
But the committee has one condition- the legislature must take the measure to the Nov. 6 statewide ballot. If the legislature declines, the group will turn back to their prior stand and will once again oppose any action that will try to legalize the adult use of cannabis.
Mark Frisk, the spokesman for the committee said that the group was originally formed to counter the proposal to legalize the adult use of cannabis but they now believe it’s time for Michigan lawmakers to amend and adopt the initiative before it’s too late.
Frisk added that despite how they feel about the issue, the topic on hand now lies on how the state plans to oversee the sale and growing of cannabis for adult consumption.
However, even with anti-marijuana proponents backing the legalization of the adult use of cannabis in the state, Republicans in Michigan Senate have other plans. Reports are saying that the members of the political party are looking for ways for it to be not included in the November ballot.
Traditionally, higher voter turnout has benefited Democrats. If the topic of the adult use of cannabis is included in the November ballot, political analysts said that it would drive more people to the polls, and it might affect the Republicans’ majority in the state Senate, House, Congress, and in the governor’s office.
The Michigan Responsibility Council funded the activities of The Committee to Keep Pot Out of Neighborhoods and Schools before it closed for good. It was a group that represented the businesses that would like to get involved in the fight against cannabis and the cannabis industry.
Steve Linder, a Republican political consultant, was the spokesman for the council in 2017.
“We think the medical marijuana act that the Legislature passed had bipartisan support,” Fisk said. “And that has a system of accountability that you need to bring to recreational marijuana, too.”
One of the major differences between the full legalization supported by the committee and the current medical marijuana laws is the governing body which distributes the licenses. At the moment, applications for medical cannabis is being reviewed and certified by the governor and the leaders of the Senate and the House.
If the public votes for the adult use of cannabis on November 6, the ballot proposal would not be regulated by that licensing panel, instead, Michigan’s Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department would handle the licensing of the companies and businesses that would grow and sell cannabis for adult use.
Aside from the governing body, another difference is the taxes that would be levied on the adult use of cannabis. The current proposal would tax the adult use cannabis at 10% in excise and 6% in sales. Meanwhile, medical cannabis carries 3% on excise and 6% sales taxes.
The Committee to Keep Pot Out of Neighborhoods and Schools pushes for the taxes of adult use to drop to the same figures as those of medical.
Although it seems that there has been a consensus in the people of Michigan, Amber McCann said that the Senators still haven’t decided whether they should take up the legalization.
McCann is the spokesman for the Senate Majority Leader, Arlan Meekhof of West Olive. She also added that the Senate is discussing every option available and the caucus has been analyzing the details.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich from Flint said that Democrats would want to let the Michigan voters decide for this matter.
If the Legislature won’t reach an agreement for the proposal to be voted on, Fisk said they will once again change their mind and oppose the ballot initiative.
On the other hand, the Healthy and Productive Michigan or HPM, another anti-marijuana legalization group hasn’t changed their stand and are still protesting the harm of legalizing the adult use of cannabis in the state.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national organization is funding HPM and has already poured over $275,000 into the group’s activities which aim to block the movement in Michigan.
Just last week, these two organizations along with other activists against the legalization of adult use of cannabis joined forces for a rally in front of Michigan’s Capitol building.
Josh Harvey, spokesman of the Committee to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol scoffed these attempts of the anti-legalization organizations.
Referencing the Committee to Keep Pot Out of Neighborhoods and Schools, he said that when the opposition is fighting in favor of cannabis legalization, it only makes the argument clearer- adult use of cannabis should be legalized in the state.
Harvey also added that the legislature has the chance to correct what’s wrong as soon as possible because the longer people wait, the more unnecessary incarcerations and ruined lives.
Lawmakers have until June 5 to agree on what to do with the proposal for cannabis legalization in the state of Michigan.