Marijuana activists working towards legalization in Michigan
Two states have already legalized recreational marijuana. Could Michigan be next?
From the grass roots level to the State Capitol, the idea is gaining momentum here and across the country.
In 2008, Michigan voters made a historic move, 63 percent of the electorate said yes to medical marijuana .
Now more than five years later, marijuana activists are looking to make history again.
"Laws are not made by ballot initiatives, but by the legislature or the city council, that's the right normal way to do it, but this is not a issue," Tim Beck, Safer Michigan Coalition co-founder said.
Beck is known as the godfather of Michigan's marijuana movement. He spearheaded the effort to get the medical marijuana issue placed on the 2008 ballot.
Now he is looking to the future and is gathering the troops to get another ballot referendum before voters that would make smoking marijuana legal.
"I'd say that in 2018 there is not doubt in my mind that we will be at that level," Beck said.
That's only four years away, but it is possible our state lawmakers in Lansing could act before then.
"We are working on a bill that would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana," Rep. Jeff Irwin, (D) 53rd District said.
Rep. Irwin is one the main lawmakers pushing for new marijuana laws.
"Residents in Michigan know that marijuana prohibition isn't working, it's incredibly costly, and the drug war is a war against our own people that we pay for dearly," Rep. Irwin said.
Rep. Irwin admits that lawmakers are still in the early stages of drafting a legalization law, but in the meantime he has sponsored a bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.
A step that has already been taken in more than a dozen Michigan cities through ballot initiatives and our area could be next.
"I can't name the names, but we have two cities in northern Michigan that are targets," Beck said.
And what happens in Michigan and how fast it happens may be shaped out west.
"I think people are going to look at Colorado and Washington and see what works, what doesn't, and how can we take their model and improve it even more so in the state of Michigan and so we can make something that people want to pass here," Jeffrey Hank, marijuana rights lawyer and activist said.