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Coalition to legalize and regulate marijuana turn in signatures for ballot proposal

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The Michigan Court of Appeals struck down Brian Reed's medical marijuana legal defense today.

A proposal to legalize marijuana in Michigan overcame a critical hurdle Monday. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol turned in more than 360,000 signatures to the Board of State Canvassers. Now they need to get enough signatures approved so it can go on the 2018 ballot.

So far, the measure hasn’t run into strong opposition. But Josh Hovey, who is with the coalition, says the lack of opposition right now doesn’t mean they can skimp on fundraising.

“Most successful ballot initiatives need to raise a total of about $8 million,” he said. “You know, we’ve raised about a million so far, spent about a million. We need to keep on raising money and do what we need to do to communicate to voters all across the state and that doesn’t come cheap.”

If the board verifies enough signatures, the measure goes to the Legislature and it can approve it. If that doesn’t happen it will go to the voters.

Former State Representative Jeff Irwin is now with the coalition. He says he isn’t counting on the Legislature to adopt the proposal.

“You’d think they’d get their minds around the idea that this is a wasteful, failed, big government program that is arresting 20,000 plus people every year and running them through the court system,” Irwin said. “But based on my experience working in that Legislature, I don’t think we would have a majority of votes.”

Spokespeople for leaders in the House and Senate say they don’t have any plans for the proposal at this time.

Attorney Jeff Hank is with MILegalize, their organization has tried to legalize marijuana for several years. They joined with the coalition recently to help the proposal get on the ballot. 

“And after doing this for years, it’s very clear all across the state in every single district of people of every single background are ready for this proposal,” Hank said.

If passed, the initiative would legalize marijuana for people 21 years old or older. It would also tax marijuana. That money would be shared between schools, roads, and local governments.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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