Prop 1 passes, recreational marijuana to be legalized in Michigan

Early unofficial vote totals are taking a favorable lean towards the legalization of recreational marijuana, as votes in favor are outpacing opposition 56 percent to 44 percent. (WWMT/FILE)

Michigan is poised to join nine other states, including Colorado and California, in becoming a place were marijuana can be used recreationally - as voters statewide offered their approval Tuesday of a proposal that has been a statewide conversation since 2008.

With 65 percent of the precincts reporting by 1 a.m. Wednesday, unofficial totals show that 57 percent of voters favored legalization, while 43 percent were opposed. On Tuesday evening, the group pushing for approval claimed victory, and the opposition group conceded defeat.

In conceding, the primary opposition group, Healthy and Productive Michigan, said in a statement that "our side lost." The group added that "the level of responsibility ... now rests on the shoulders of those who have voted yes."

Opponents said legalizing marijuana would lead to increased use by children, drug abuse and car crashes. Supporters said it will raise roughly $130 million in additional tax revenue each year that will go toward road repairs, schools and local governments.

Proposal 18-1 offers a plan to authorize and legalize recreational marijuana, including possession, use and cultivation of products by individuals, who are at least 21 years of age, and commercial sales of marijuana through state-licensed retailers, according to the language on the ballot. The proposal follows the legalization of medical marijuana that passed in Michigan in 2010 by a 63 percent to 37 percent margin.

The criteria in the proposal imposes a 10-ounce limit for marijuana kept at residences along with a mandate that requires 2.5 ounces to be kept in locked containers. In addition, the permit retail sales tax on marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles, which were also legalized through the proposal, is a proposed 10 percent. The additional income will be dedicated to implementation costs, clinical trials, schools, roads and municipalities where dispensaries are located, according to ballot language.

Michigan was not the only state working on a proposed legalization, as North Dakota joined the race in an effort to become one of the minority states allowing legal sales and distribution of the federally recognized schedule one drug.

Although the proposal is now in effect, that doesn't mean the use of marijuana will be immediately legal following Election Day. It's now up to lawmakers to write and adopt the written law.

According to state law, ballot initiatives must go into effect 10 days after it was approved by voters and results are certified. It's likely the legalization won't be official until December 2018.

It also wouldn't necessarily mean a dispensary is opening in your hometown. It will be up to local municipalities to allow or disallow the formation of marijuana-dispensaries or cultivation, but the proposal specifies that Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs must start accepting applications at least 12 months after the measure goes into effect.

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