Groups question next steps after voters approve legalizing recreational marijuana
LANSING, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- Michigan voters have approved legalizing recreational marijuana, but path the toward actual regulation and guidelines has just begun.
The state will join nine other states that allow the legalization, through it’s Proposal 1.
That means, someone over the age of 21 can have up to 2.5 ounces on their person, they can have up to ten ounces in their home - but it has to be locked up, and someone can grow up to 12 marijuana plants in their own home for personal use.
At a scheduled press conference Wednesday morning, the groups, Healthy and Productive Michigan and Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) told media they plan to continue their fight against legalization and regulation.
“We realize we lost the battle but we don’t think we lost the war,” said Kevin Sabet, the President of the national organization, Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “Most of us don’t want our doctor high, most of us don’t want our kid’s bus driver high and that’s where this goes from being an individual liberty to a decision that effects non-users."
Legislative action can be taken to make amendments to the proposal.
The group hopes to work with law makers to set specific rules regarding edible products and maximum levels of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol).
“Marijuana, THC, the active ingredient is very different than alcohol, it stays in our system longer, it’s difficult to detect very recent impairment,” Sabet says their next step is to work with municipalities throughout the state to address their concerns.
President of Healthy and Productive Michigan, Scott Greenlee said as of Wednesday morning, 20 to 25 communities reached out to the group, asking about ways to ‘opt out’ of the commercial aspect.
The groups also say they're concerned with how this will be regulated by employers and careers, whether someone comes in to work high.
Law enforcement across the state and prosecutors have been strongly against Proposal 1.
“Now we’re taking it to the roadway, so someone just smoking a joint or two - but how much THC is in that, we don’t know and how will that affect that person,” said Sheriff John O’Hagan with the Manistee Sheriff’s Office.
Under the proposal, communities can ‘opt out’ of opening their towns to commercial sales.
“If the city as a whole chooses to ‘opt out’ of a being a municipality that has a provisioning center, and transporters and growers in our community, then our city council will have to take proper action to opt out,” said Joe Duff, the Gaylord City Manager said municipalities can choose to opt out, or choose to set their own ordinances or regulations. “We need to decide what fits for our community, and I think that’s where a lot of communities in the state are trying to decide today.”
Looking at the results, it’s clear more than half (56-percent) of voters supported legalization.
At a rally Tuesday night, a spokesperson for Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, in support of Proposal 1, explained that one reason they are so excited is because policing marijuana was breaking up families.
“The people that get hurt when an adult goes to jail is their children, and it’s about our families and the damage that was done to our families through incarceration for simple marijuana crimes,” said Robin Schneider.
Supporters also say this will bring jobs and money to the state and communities, especially in rural industries.
But law enforcement says their main concern right now is safety.
“With alcohol, we have a tool besides our sobriety test, that will give us a per say and absolute, .08,” Sheriff O’Hagan said. “We don’t have that with marijuana, this will take our guys spending more time with the drivers just to make sure they are okay.”
Recreational use of marijuana will not be legal until ten days after the election results are certified, which could be around early December.
Businesses will not begin to open until sometime in 2020, once the limitations and rule-making process is complete.