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Marijuana legalization campaign headed to court

Marijuana plants
Flickr user A7nubis
Marijuana plants.

A state elections board has rejected petitions filed by the campaign to legalize marijuana in Michigan. The action by the Board of State Canvassers tees up a court battle over time limits for petition drives to gather signatures.


Thomas Lavigne is an attorney with MI Legalize. He says a requirement that petition campaigns collect signatures within a 180-day period violates the state constitution. He says the framers did not envision this sort of barrier.

“Only huge-money interests would ever be able to put something on the ballot, and that is not the intention,” Lavigne says. “This was for the people. This was for the grassroots.”

But Republican board member Norm Shinkle says the marijuana campaign is simply being treated like every other petition drive. 

“It’s changing the rules in the middle of the game,” Shinkle says. “They knew what the rules were when they started their petition drive. They just didn’t get enough signatures, and they’re coming to us wanting to change the rules.”

But MI Legalize says the state constitution gives ballot campaigns four years – not 180 days – to gather signatures. The group’s leaders say they’ll file a lawsuit to try and get on the November ballot. 

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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