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Marijuana Legalization Efforts Intensify in Pre-Election Home Stretch

Supporters of Proposal 1 submitted 354,000 signatures to get it on the ballot. (Marijuana Policy Project)
Supporters of Proposal 1 submitted 354,000 signatures to get it on the ballot. (Marijuana Policy Project)
October 24, 2018

LANSING, Mich. - With less than two weeks before the election, backers of Proposal 1 have released their first advertisement, hoping to convince voters to make Michigan the first state in the Midwest to legalize recreational marijuana.

The commercial, from the group MI Legalize, argued that the move would reduce dependency on opiates, citing a drop in opiate prescriptions in states that have decriminalized marijuana.

Native Michigander Karen O'Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said she is convinced that society would be safer if people could buy marijuana in a store instead of on the black market.

"It's only through regulation that we can be sure that consumers have a safe, tested product that they know isn't contaminated with dangerous pesticide or even laced with other drugs," she said.

Opponents have maintained that marijuana is a dangerous drug that breeds addiction and crime, and that the federal government is unlikely to change its stance on marijuana anytime soon.

The pro-Proposal 1 ad touted new jobs and a new source of tax revenue. It also mentioned that Michigan would see 20,000 fewer marijuana arrests per year and thus save more than $100 million in prosecution costs.

O'Keefe contended that the current laws have left too many Michiganders with criminal convictions that can cost them their livelihoods, over a substance that more than half of Americans say they've tried.

"Marijuana convictions can really destroy a person's dream," she said. "It's like an economic death penalty. A person can have very much trouble getting jobs, getting an education and getting housing if they have to check a box saying that they have a criminal conviction."

If Proposal 1 passes, it immediately would become legal for anyone age 21 and older to have marijuana for personal use. It would take a year or two before regulations could be put in place to allow commercial growing and over-the-counter sales.

The ad is online at facebook.com, and more information on Proposal 1 is at milegalize.com.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MI