- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Michigan residents will likely vote on legalizing recreational marijuana in 2018 after advocates submitted more than enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot next November.

The Committee to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said it submitted more than 365,000 signatures to state election officials Monday, requesting they place its legalization proposal on the November 2018 ballot, well above the 252,523 needed by law to bring it to a vote.

If put on the ballot and approved by voters, the measure would legalize the personal possession, cultivation and use of limited amounts of marijuana and open the door for the state to license businesses that grow, process, test, transport and sell the plant, adding Michigan to the short list of states to legalize retail weed sales in spite of the federal government’s longstanding prohibition on pot.

“Just like with alcohol, marijuana prohibition has been a huge failure,” said Josh Hovey, the committee’s spokesman. “Instead of wasting law enforcement resources on a substance that is proven to be less harmful than either alcohol or tobacco, our initiative creates a tightly regulated system that will generate significant revenue for the state that will help fund our roads, public schools and local governments — three of Michigan’s most underfunded needs.”

Indeed, the initiative would tax the plant at the retail level with a 10 percent excise tax and a 6 percent sales sales, potentially paving the way for the state to reap millions of dollars in cannabis-related revenue, given the results in the five states to legalize non-medical marijuana sales.

Colorado became the first state in the country to sell retail weed in 2014, and so far those sales have netted the state more than $500 million in related tax revenue. Alaska, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state have each earned significant revenue since opening state-licensed pot shops in the years since, and experts have predicted California could earn up to $1 billion off of marijuana taxes within a year of starting retail sales in 2018.

Roughly two-thirds of Americans support legalizing marijuana, according to the results of a Gallup poll released month, including all five gubernatorial candidates, as evidenced by their comments during a bipartisan debate last week, The Detroit Free Press reported.

The marijuana initiative in Michigan, if passed, would also legalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp and given local governments the power to decide rules for letting marijuana businesses operate within their limits.

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