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Michigan Voters Poised to Legalize Marijuana - Tim Beck

The Michigan cannabis reform community got a special gift from the Detroit News and its affiliate WDIV TV. On September 11, these media companies (whose editorial staff has been traditionally hostile to legal marijuana for adults) revealed that their own polling  indicates a big win for legalization when the voters speak on November 6.

If their numbers are correct, victory is inevitable.

Specifically 56% of all voters are solidly in favor of Proposal 1, 38% are opposed and only 5.8% are undecided. This means if every current undecided voter said NO, the result will still be a blow out win.

In an interview with the Detroit News, pollster Richard Czuba of the Lansing based Glengarif Group, Inc. which conducted the survey said "whats interesting is how consistent these numbers have been over the last two years", referring to past polling on the issue."There are hardly any undecided people left. It's baked into the electorate" he declared.

The only demographic cohort strongly opposed to legalization are those over age 65 who reject the proposal by 56%.  Persons identifying themselves as strong Republicans say NO, at a rate of 52%. Everyone else says YES.

"This confirms our own internal polling" said Josh Hovey, spokesperson for the "Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol" (CRMLA) in an interview with MMM Report. "Our YES numbers have been consistently in the high 50's and low 60's since day one."

Mr Hovey is employed by the public relations and issues management firm of Lansing based "Truscott-Rossman Co." (TR).TR is on the payroll of CRMLA, which is the creation of the Washington DC based Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), and a native Michigan group called "MI Legalize." MI Legalize came close to getting the measure on the ballot in 2016. MPP funded the legalization of medical marijuana in Michigan in 2008.

Founded by John Truscott, who was press secretary to former Republican Governor John Engler and Democrat lobbyist Kelly Rossman; TR's major clients include DTE Energy, Blue Cross, The University of Michigan, The Van Andel Institute, the Skillman Foundation and the cities of Detroit, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. The company is considered to be one of the bluest of the blue chip public relations and lobbying firms in Michigan.

TR's paycheck of roughly $12K per month plus expenses, comes from wealthy institutions, individuals and grass roots donors from across Michigan and the USA.

The funders motives are a mixture of altruism and self interest. For the pubic good, some want to end the useless, failed, 80+ year war on marijuana. Others  want to cash in and supply a new, legal adult market, which currently exists in California, Colorado, Washington State, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Alaska, Nevada and Vermont.

Mr. Hovey was candid and realistic in our interview. He explained that TR has gone about its business in a calm, methodical, low key way; playing its cards close to the vest.

In addition to intensive internal polling on the nuances of voter sentiment, they conducted three focus groups in the metro Detroit and Grand Rapids media markets.

"The focus groups were very helpful" said Mr. Hovey. "We were able to identify key areas of concern the typical voter has about Proposal 1 and develop effective responses to allay those fears."

He went on to disclose three primary fears troubling voters. However, the magazine is taking the liberty of not printing his answers. We have no interest in educating our enemies as to how to refine their attack messages or what potential flaws to concentrate on. There is no evidence to date, that "Healthy and Productive Michigan" (HPM) the group which is leading the charge against legalization, has ever conducted focus groups, given their limited budget so far.

Anyway, it does not matter. Most of you reading this have heard every excuse in the world as to why cannabis should remain illegal. You are more than able to refute the lies. TR's job is use their expertise in messaging on a mass scale; to educate the typical voter as well as opinion leaders in ways we as individuals cannot.

As to whether HPM has any hope of raising the millions of dollars needed to prevail in November (if such a thing is even possible given the current survey data) Mr. Hovey was uncertain. "So far it has not happened but we can never be sure. It is entirely possible a significant donation could come in the next couple weeks. We will never really know that until the end of October, when the next financial reports are due. By that time it will be too late. Lots of misleading messages could be coming out around the end of October."

He went on to explain, that CRMLA has not yet made a final decision as to running TV ads, but it is in a position to do so and the money is there. "We are still in the process of determining whether something like that is needed at this point. We have national funders who really want this to win and we will do whatever we need to do."

In the meantime, a big effort will be made to get lots of free media. TR is bringing the famous travel writer and TV personality Rick Steves to Michigan to advocate for legalization. In addition, respected United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consultant Susan Sisley MD, will be here to refute lies being spread by HPM as to the health issues surrounding the medical as well as adult use of marijuana for any reason.

Mr. Hovey's advice to MMM Report readers and grass roots activists across Michigan, is "ignore the polls and fight to win like your life depended on it. Spread the word, and don't get rattled by the hysteria and reefer madness coming from desperate opponents."

He went on to explain the vital role each and every member of the community has, in terms of refuting lies and getting family, friends and neighbors to vote. If Proposal 1 loses, it may be years before Michigan gets another chance to throw off this creepy yoke. "We are going to have plenty of lawn signs, and tee shirts ready to go very soon. Our logo was just approved today. ( the interview with MMM Report took place on September 13, and the column
deadline is September 19)

"The facts are with us and the only thing the other side has to offer is scare stories. We all can deal with that--- and I too understand the personal impact this flawed policy has had."

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