After Ballot Access Defeat, Michigan Marijuana Activists Should Go for the Jugular

With the continual economic devastation in Detroit and the environmental disaster in Flint, it seems like the Wolverine State can't catch a break these days. Our state's bad luck has even continued into the cannabis reform movement, where the corrupt legislature and courts threw Democracy out the window to keep legalization off the ballot in November.

In the middle of the process, Gov. Rick Snyder and his minions in the Republican-dominated state legislature passed a bill that changed the rules of the state-wide ballot initiative. The new rules are far more strict with less time given for petitioners to gather signatures. A lawsuit was filed, but denied by the courts. A Detroit Free Press report explains the dismaying situation further:

"The petition campaign called MI Legalize failed to submit enough valid petition signatures, according to a ruling by the Michigan Court of Claims.

Although MI Legalize submitted 354,000 signatures — well over the 252,000 required — the court agreed with a State Board of Canvassers decision in June, deciding that “more than 200,000 were collected more than 180 days before the petition was submitted” to the Secretary of State — a violation of state law."

An appeal will be filed, but it is very unlikely to be successful due to the limited time frame. This means that marijuana is not going to be legalized in the state of Michigan in 2016. Don't abandon all hope yet though! Michigan marijuana legalization activists now have a golden opportunity to come back with full-barreled resistance.

At Peace on our Streets, we recommend legislation or ballot initiatives similar to Rep. David Simpson's "Cannabis Freedom Act" that would make marijuana readily available in the free market without any onerous taxes or regulations, just like any other plant. “I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix,” Rep. Simpson (R-TX) said when proposing the legislation. One of the best marijuana quotes ever said - and from a Republican to boot!

In Michigan, there is already a group that is working toward a more radical solution. They are known as Abrogate Prohibition 2016. Their ballot proposal was unsuccessful in 2016 as well. It competed with the MILegalize effort that was eventually shut down by the corrupt legislators and courts. Abrogate was not a "tax and regulate" scheme like MILegalize and most of the legalization efforts out there. It was a full-scale repeal of prohibition with nothing replacing it.

The language of their bold proposal reads as follows:

"(1) The agricultural, personal, recreational, medicinal, commercial and industrial use of cannabis in any form by any person shall be a lawful activity. (a) Cannabis use by any person who is; the ward of an adult, enrolled in K-12 school, a minor, shall be lawful activity requiring only parental or legal guardian authorization.

(2) All prohibitions on the use of cannabis in any form by any person is hereby null and void, and henceforth abrogated.

(3) "Use of Cannabis" shall include: (a) The growing, manufacture, delivery, purchase, consumption, and transport, of any seed, flower, leaf, mixture, derivative, extract, product, and or preparation of the cannabis plant for all personal, recreational, medicinal, commercial and industrial purposes.

(4) No excise tax, no fines, no regulation to diminish use, shall be levied or allowed for use of Cannabis.

(5) Severability: If any section, subsection or part of this amendment is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional, the remaining sections, subsections or parts of those sections shall not be affected but will remain in full force and effect."

Some of the language may sound extreme, but so what? Cannabis is clearly catching on, and the momentum is firmly behind us. Why should we water down our proposals when we are winning? Instead of backpedaling, it is time to put our feet on the gas pedal and shove our noble agenda right down the prohibitionists' throats.

Try to view the legalization movement incrementally. We initially took the step from full prohibition to medical cannabis. After medical cannabis was a big winner, we jumped to decriminalization. After that, we moved to legalization with taxes and restrictions. Isn't it time to make the next leap to full-blown cannabis freedom? My home state of Michigan has a great opportunity to be a national trend-setter that opens up the flood gates to bury cannabis prohibition for good!

We need to keep pushing this movement forward. We cannot be complacent. We cannot be happy to give concessions and kickbacks to special interests who want to be greased over from the booming marijuana trade. That money belongs in the hands of the growers, the patients and the tokers, not big daddy government!

The organizers at Abrogate Prohibition 2016 say that they will be re-booting their efforts for 2018, where they hope to make the ballot. Regardless of whether it is that group or another that is ultimately successful, marijuana legalization activists in Michigan and elsewhere would be wise to keep pushing for more freedom rather than settling for the status quo.