After approving the use of medical marijuana in 2008, Michigan voters will have the chance to make the drug fully legal, for adults 21 and over to use, this November.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
What we found:
- If Proposal 2018-1 passes, Michigan would establish a regulatory system for growing, processing, transporting and selling marijuana and products containing it, to which Michigan’s six percent sales tax and a new 10 percent excise tax would be applied. Adult use and possession of marijuana and marijuana products would be legal under state law, but still be illegal under federal law.
- If Proposal 1 is rejected, use and possession of marijuana for non-medical purposes would remain illegal under state law. Michigan would maintain its current tax and regulatory system for medical marijuana.
- Major issues to consider: Proposal 1 eliminates state-level criminality of marijuana possession and use. A new regulatory system would provide consumers accurate labeling and generate some new tax dollars, but not necessarily guarantee the elimination of a black market. The proposal does not generate additional resources that will be needed to deal with marijuana abuse/dependence or other public health issues.
The United States has long had a complicated relationship with marijuana. Early arguments for its criminalization in the 1930s invoked anti-immigrant sentiments and exaggerated potential harms, linking it to violent crime, insanity and social chaos. The movement to legalize marijuana, not just as medicine but as a recreational substance, has spread from its early adopters to 31 states that allow at least some form of medical marijuana. Michigan legalized medical marijuana in 2008.
If Proposal 1 passes, Michigan would be the 10th state to allow the growth, sale and use of marijuana. Although it would be legal under state law, marijuana use remains illegal under federal law.
Proposal 1 is promoted by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. As the name suggests, the effort seeks to reward the state with at least some new tax revenue, and users with the assurance of regulatory oversight, as well as the ability to step out of the shadows of law-breaking.
Criminalization of the drug has not curtailed usage and has created individual and social costs. Under current laws, the number of annual arrests for marijuana possession has exceeded arrests for all violent crimes combined, and arrest data reveal racial and socioeconomic disparities. Marijuana use is on the rise and perceptions of the danger posed by frequent use seem to be declining.
However, residents fearing a free-for-all should be advised that many restrictions on its use would remain in place, including drugged driving. Employers would still be free to drug-test for marijuana use, and take action against employees who use the drug.
Some new tax dollars would be generated, but the proposal does not generate additional resources that will be needed to deal with abuse/dependence or other public health issues related to marijuana. However, legalization may free up some resources currently dedicated to law enforcement, criminal justice and corrections.
“Although Proposal 1 is couched in individual liberty, Michigan voters also should consider the social consequences of this proposal,” said Eric Lupher, President of the Citizens Research Council. “Like alcohol and tobacco usage, greater accessibility of marijuana will create new costs for public safety and criminal justice, public health, and mental health providers.”
The Citizens Research Council of Michigan does not take positions on ballot issues. In analyzing the questions on the November ballot, the Citizens Research Council hopes to provide more information so that voters can make better informed decisions in formulating their votes.
View our full analysis here.