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The time has finally arrived. By the time your eyes settle on this article, we’ll be less than 30 days away from the opportunity to vote yes on marijuana legalization here in Michigan, becoming the 10th state to do so. Upon Prop 1 passing, we would join Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Massachusetts, Nevada, Maine, California, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. This will be a gigantic milestone in Michigan history, one that is truly decades in the making.

Marijuana has quite the history in Michigan, making it quite understandable why it was quite difficult to get to this point, and honestly one could even be quite surprised we arrived at this point as quickly as we did. Lets take a quick glance over some Michigan history of marijuana prohibition, marijuana legalization attempts, and legalization itself. In the 1950’s, Michigan implemented some of the toughest laws in the country on Marijuana. A 1952 bill made narcotics possession punishable by up to 10 years in prison and Marijuana was viewed as a narcotic. Fellow MMMR contributor and cannabis activist John Sinclair was arrested several times, starting in 1964. It was his third arrest that came in 1967 that was a true catalyst. John had given 2 marijuana joints to an undercover cop and was eventually sentenced to 9 and a half to 10 years in prison. A huge free John campaign was launched, headlined by John Lennon, and had support of many local officials. John was freed after 2 years in prison upon convincing the courts that heroin and marijuana weren’t equally as dangerous and that marijuana was misclassified. Three months later, the marijuana laws were declared un constitutional and there was a gap in time before marijuana laws were placed back on the books and marijuana was actually legal for about 3 weeks in Michigan in 1972. John made an effort to get a ballot initiative done that year and eventually fell well short of the amount needed, after all, this was 1972.

Since then, there have been other efforts to legalize marijuana in Michigan. There was the Repeal Today effort in 2012 which fell well short of the needed signatures. That group as well as a much larger grass roots group then canvassed the state hard for the MiLegalize group and their petition initiative which gathered enough signatures, but as many readers already know, they were collected well outside of the time allotted to collect them. Which brings us to the current initiative that was successfully done by the Committee to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, an initiative completed by a unified front of grass roots activist led by the folks of MiLegalize, joined by the national Marijuana Policy Project group. Three failed petition drives throughout the years in Michigan, culminates this November when we all get the opportunity to finally correct an unjust law that has been enforced here in Michigan for decades upon decades. There are many reasons to be excited to legalize marijuana besides being able to grow a dozen plants and smoke on your porch without risk of police harassment. Just a few would be the tax revenue, the job creation, hemp is included in the proposal so there will be a huge opportunity for manufacturing. My personal opinion is that the biggest benefit will be removing the majority of law enforcements power to turn an everyday cannabis consuming citizen into a criminal. Medical Marijuana was passed in 2008 with the intention of arrest going down, instead, arrest have steadily increased. One only need to look at this author as a example, I began using cannabis in 1995 and didn’t catch a criminal case for it until 2016 as a medical marijuana dispensary owner. Marijuana arrest account for 9% of all Michigan arrest and the top counties arrest rate per 1000 people are all up North with Crawford being number on Northern Michigan can rejoice upon prop 1 passage because the stretch of interstate that begins in Ogemaw county, runs through Roscommon and Crawford counties, and ending in the cannabis war zone of Otsego county, known as the gauntlet, will no longer be the gauntlet of police looking for patients with cannabis in their vehicles. Michigan is arresting close to 25,000 people per year for marijuana. Upon passing prop 1, close to 25,000 people a year will no longer be unjustly arrested. Law enforcement will be able to focus efforts on real crime and drugs that truly do prove a risk to communities. Sure we’ll have some issues to work through, nothing is perfect and Rome wasn’t built in a day. One thing is for certain though, passing Prop 1 will give Michigan a much better future than the past we’ve had to endure.

Unfortunately, this is no guarantee. Social media is full of post claiming we’ll legalize in November, people are already talking about things they want to do after legalization as if its already been voted on and we’re just waiting for the date for the new law to take effect. We truly need to stay focused and not put the cart in front of the horse. Menominee police are putting out social media post almost daily about the dangers of legalizing marijuana, Macomb just held a public forum this week spreading fear propaganda as well. Healthy and Productive Michigan is still striving to derail this initiative, SAM or Smart Approach to Marijuana as well, and some counties like Otsego are even drafting resolutions stating the county is opposed to marijuana legalization. The anti groups seem to be ramping up their efforts, hopefully this month we see a lot of campaign promotions come out from the Prop 1 people. Polling was consistently in the upper 50’s to low 60’s for those in favor and in a recent poll conducted, those in favor was at a mere 44%. Polls, depending who conducts them and who they are asking, can obviously be skewed one direction by approaching a particular group, but if any poll comes back like that one at only 44%, it tells me there are enough no’s out there that we can’t sit home in November and appreciate legalization happening from the comforts of home. This should be the largest election turnout in Michigan history. Our primary voter turnout this past March was 2.2 million voters, the previous highest was 1.8 million. Looking forward to our general election where we get to cast our vote for marijuana, general elections typically pull a little more than 3 million voters in Michigan, experts expect as many as 4.2 million this November. Gerrymandering and a promote the vote initiative are on the ballot as well, but its many expert opinions that the marijuana legalization is going to bring out many from both sides that don’t generally get out and vote. Reefer madness has existed for decades, and we may not believe it but many in the state do. So to be sure we are primed and positioned for a success here, I ask that each and every one of you make sure to skip witnessing history, and to be an active part of creating it,

Vote yes on prop 1.

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