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Board to decide if pot legalization, prevailing wage petition drives will move forward

Marijuana plant
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 2008.

Tuesday is a critical day for two groups – one which hopes to legalize and tax recreational marijuana in Michigan, and another which seeks to ban prevailing wage requirements in the state.

The Board of State Canvassers will review petition language submitted by the Michigan Cannabis Coalition. It’s one of at least three groups working to put a marijuana legalization question on the November 2016 ballot.

“We’re driven by making sure that the issue is fair, that it’s properly regulated, that the Legislature has the ability to tax it and generate revenue,” said coalition spokesperson Matt Marsden.

“And I think, moving forward, that our language will be the most palatable to the general voting public in November of 2016.”

Marsden says the group would use revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana to fund public safety, public health, and education.

“Our goal here is to look at ways that we can help generate revenue for the state of Michigan without necessarily having to rely on taxing the entire population to find that revenue,” he said.

At least one other competing group is considering using some of that money to help fix Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges. Marsden says the boost in revenue his group’s measure would provide could possibly allow the state to divert money to roads.

The board will also consider petition language to ban prevailing wage requirements in

Michigan. Prevailing wage guarantees union-level pay and benefits for workers on publicly-funded construction projects.

Gov. Rick Snyder has said he opposes repealing prevailing wage laws, in part because he believes it would hurt his push to boost skilled trades in Michigan. That’s despite strong support from Republican legislative leaders for ending prevailing wage.

If the group gathers enough signatures, the measure could become law without the governor’s signature if it’s approved by the Legislature.

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