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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Michigan activists to launch marijuana legalization initiative

marijuana bud
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The Michigan Court of Appeals struck down Brian Reed's medical marijuana legal defense today.

A group of activists says 2016 is the year to legalize marijuana in Michigan.

The group says it will launch a petition drive this year. It’s still finalizing the proposal’s language – but organizers say it will allow people to grow up to 12 marijuana plants each.

“The main reason to do it is that the prohibition of marijuana is wrong and that we’re criminalizing and penalizing otherwise honest, hardworking citizens,” said attorney Matthew Abel, one of the campaign’s organizers and director of the pro-marijuana group Michigan NORML.

“It’s no longer a question of ‘if,’ it’s more a question of ‘when and how,’” said Abel.

But some other marijuana activists in Michigan question whether there’s enough support or funding now to collect enough signatures.

Abel counters by pointing to growing public support for legalizing marijuana in the state.

The polling seems to be moving in our direction two or three points per year,” he says. “So, within a year or two years, we will be at 55% or 56% in favor, which should be enough to pass this ballot proposal.”

Another group led by Republican political operatives is exploring a separate initiative to legalize marijuana in 2016.

Abel and others worry that proposal would put any marijuana distribution system in the hands of big businesses and end or limit the ability for individuals to grow cannabis at home. They also worry it would end protections for people who use marijuana for medical reasons.

Abel says word of the possible Republican campaign was a significant factor in launching a petition drive spearheaded by pro-marijuana activists.