State leader hopes to legalize recreational marijuana

53rd District State Representative, Jeff Irwin (D), and the Michigan Cannabis Coalition are taking separate approaches in their efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Coming up on May 28, 7&4 News is hosting a Your Voice Your Future Town Hall discussion about legalizing marijuana.

Some states have already legalized the drug for recreational use, and the issue is now being discussed here in Michigan.

53rd District State Representative, Jeff Irwin (D), and the Michigan Cannabis Coalition are taking separate approaches in their efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

â??It would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in Michigan,â?? said Irwin.

Irwin is working to try and end what he calls the â??drug warâ?? in Michigan. Heâ??s getting ready to introduce legislation that if passed would make marijuana use legal for adults.

â??Very similar to what theyâ??ve done in Colorado but I think there are some improvements we can make on their policy, lessons we can take from the experiences that there have been in Colorado,â?? said Irwin.

Irwin believes that the current policy that prohibits recreational use, is a failure.

â??Itâ??s not accomplishing our goals of reducing crime, itâ??s not accomplishing our goals of keeping drugs out of the hands of kids,â?? said Irwin. â??In fact, itâ??s driving the violent crimes on our streets.â??

As part of Irwinâ??s proposal, marijuana use would be regulated like alcohol and there would also be taxes on it that would go to help fund roads, schools, and substance abuse treatment.

His legislation would also give local governments some control on the stores that would be selling the product.

â??Giving the local communities the ability to zone for or against these types of establishments,â?? said Irwin.

Matt Marsden is a spokesperson for the Michigan Cannabis Coalition. The group has the same overall goal as Rep. Irwin but is taking a different approach as they try to get their proposal on the 2016 ballot.

â??I think that the general population when asked the question, â??Do you want to legalize marijuana if itâ??s properly regulated and properly taxes,â?? I think that around 60 percent of the state would say they do,â?? said Marsden.

Under their proposal, a five person Cannabis Control Board would be created that Marsden says would function like our current Gaming Control Board and would be focused on rules and regulations.

â??Three of the appointees would come from the governorâ??s office. All have agriculture backgrounds, one in crop management,â?? said Marsden. â??And then two at large positions, one appointed by the senate majority leader and one appointed by the speaker of the house.â??

The Cannabis Coalition believes a tax on marijuana could generate between $200-million and $500-million in taxable revenue for the state. Under their plan, the revenue would go towards education, public health and public safety.

Marsden says legalization could also create a new industry for the state.

â??In essence, marijuana is a cash crop that can be used to not only create jobs in distribution perspective, from security perspectives, from people behind the register, to the growing of it,â?? said Marsden.

Rep. Irwin and Marsden will both be on our panel for the Town Hall discussion on May 28.

The event will be held in Milliken Auditorium on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College. You can either attend the event in person, watch on our website, or chime in through social media. Doors open at Milliken Auditorium at 5:15 p.m. and seating is first come, first serve.

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