There are rumblings out of Lansing, Michigan that state legislators are considering an attempt to pass some sort of recreational cannabis legalization before voters get a chance to go to the polls this November and vote on it.
It seems state Republicans are worried that marijuana legalization could increase turnout at the ballot this fall, an increase that would most likely lean Democrat in its voting patterns.
So, for example, if the GOP could pass a less robust marijuana legalization bill through the legislature, it could reduce the effect that legalization would have while simultaneously taking the teeth out of any measure that would be on the ballot this fall, suppressing the vote and theoretically keeping many Democrat voters at home. And that’s if backers of the legalization ballot measure want to continue at all.
A similar strategy was used successfully by members of the Ohio legislature regarding medical marijuana in 2016. In the aftermath of the crushing defeat of Issue 3 (recreational and medical marijuana legalization) in November of 2015, there was an attempt to get a decent medical marijuana measure on the statewide ballot in the fall of 2016. Instead of allowing that to happen, the Ohio legislature passed a less robust medical cannabis bill, causing the Marijuana Policy Project to withdraw their attempt at medical legalization.
The result is a weak medical marijuana law that the Ohio state government is having problems implementing. But, as this news story points out, there is reason to believe that the Michigan GOP will have trouble getting an actual legalization bill through the state legislature, considering how split their caucus is on the issue.
There are a few important lessons here: things are never over until they are over, and legalization is not simply “inevitable” and politicians who don’t like the idea of legalization still have the power to either weaken it or delay it for quite a long time. There may be some people who support marijuana legalization in Michigan who think that legalization is inevitable and all they have to do is show up on Election Day 2018 and check the ‘Yes’ box. But nothing comes easy, no matter how much momentum it has behind it.
There are always those who are looking to stop, or at least delay, what many see as inevitable. Don’t let them get away with it in Michigan.