Will Marijuana Legalization Be on the Michigan 2016 Ballot?

Michigan voters will very likely have the opportunity to vote on legalization of marijuana during the November 2016 election. There are currently three ballot initiatives that have been approved by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers.

Initiated State Statute

Two initiated state statutes have been approved:

The Michigan Marijuana Legalization Initiative
The Michigan Cannabis Control and Revenue Act

Both initiatives would permit legal possession, use, and manufacturing of marijuana and marijuana-infused products by persons 21 and over; permit commercial marijuana manufacturing facilities; and create the Michigan Cannabis Control Board for the purpose of licensing, regulating, and taxing marijuana.

Generally, Michigan legislators draft and submit bills that may become laws if passed by the legislature and the governor. However, citizens can also propose laws through the process of citizen-initiated state statutes. These initiated state statutes are citizen-initiated proposed laws that are presented to the Michigan Legislature once the required 252,523 signatures are collected on the ballot initiative. Once the Michigan Legislature receives the ballot initiative with a sufficient number of signatures, the legislature must decide whether it will pass or reject the proposed law. If the legislature rejects the proposed law, the initiative is placed on the election ballot for voters to decide.

Initiated Constitutional Amendment

An initiated constitutional amendment has also been approved:

The Michigan Abrogate Cannabis Prohibition Amendment

This constitutional amendment would entirely legalize the possession, use, and manufacturing of marijuana and marijuana-infused products by anyone regardless of age, prohibit taxation of marijuana, and prohibit regulation of marijuana.

The initiative would amend Article I of the Michigan Constitution by adding section 28 as follows:
Section 28.

(1) The agricultural, personal, recreational, medicinal, commercial and industrial use of cannabis in any form by any person shall be a lawful activity. (a) Cannabis use by any person who is; the ward of an adult, enrolled in K-12 school, a minor, shall be lawful activity requiring only parental or legal guardian authorization.
(2) All prohibitions on the use of cannabis in any form by any person is hereby null and void, and henceforth abrogated.
(3) “Use of Cannabis” shall include: (a) The growing, manufacture, delivery, purchase, consumption, and transport, of any seed, flower, leaf, mixture, derivative, extract, product, and or preparation of the cannabis plant for all personal, recreational, medicinal, commercial and industrial purposes.
(4) No excise tax, no fines, no regulation to diminish use, shall be levied or allowed for use of Cannabis.
(5) Severability: If any section, subsection or part of this amendment is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional, the remaining sections, subsections or parts of those sections shall not be affected but will remain in full force and effect.

Unlike an initiated state statute, an initiated constitutional amendment skips legislative approval and goes directly on the election ballot once the required 315,654 signatures are collected on the ballot initiative.

Interestingly, if all three initiatives are placed on the ballot, and all three initiatives are approved by Michigan voters, the constitutional amendment would take precedence over the statutes and effectively eliminate them.

Jeffrey M. Schroder, Esq.

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