UPDATE: (11:29 p.m.) – When you have a polarizing issue at the center of attention, it usually brings out the most passionate stake-holders and that was true for the thousands of state residents who signed a petition to legalize marijuana use here in Michigan.
On Monday, more than 300,000 signatures were turned into the Bureau of State Elections.
It will now review all 354,000 signatures, determine whether or not they are indeed valid, and then work up a report to send to the Board of State Canvassers.
But things are still hazy as far as if the state will consider all of those signatures turned in Wednesday, because most recently, the legislature passed a law, giving petitioners only 180 days to collect signatures and anything older than that isn’t valid.
Jeff Hank, East Lansing attorney and Executive Director of MI Legalize said they’re optimistic.
“A lot of people put a lot of effort into this to make this happen,” Hank said.
A petition for pot; It’s an effort that started back in June, and it sent thousands of volunteers to collect tens of thousands of signatures to legalize the drug in Michigan.
And here we are today, about a year later, 61 boxes packed with more than 354,000 voter signatures.
“I am so relieved, it’s an amazing process,” Jeanne Day-Labo said. “This is totally people funded, we’ve had people donating money, we’ve had one minute you don’t know if you’ll get it and one minute you’re like we got it.”
Day-Labo works as a volunteer for MI Legalize.
“We’ve worked so hard,” Hank said. “The people of the state of Michigan really stepped up to the plate. We submitted over 354,000 potentially valid signatures and it’s a historic moment, it’s never been done in Michigan, we’re a true grassroots campaign.”
Jeff hank wants this issue to go before voters on the November ballot and he admits the signatures submitted Wednesday are older than that 180-day period.
A time frame The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan calls unconstitutional.
The group fell short of the more than 250,000 needed to get an anti-fracking measure on the ballot, forcing them to file a lawsuit in the State Court of Claims.
Should the group MI Legalize follow suit, it’s just another challenge Hank said it’ll work to overcome.
“We believe we submitted a sufficient number of signatures,” Hank said. “If they say otherwise or they attempt to unfairly apply some sort of policy or law to us then we’ll definitely fight for the rights of every Michigan voter.”
The Michigan Bureau of Elections will now vet through the hundreds of thousands of signatures to ensure they comply with state law, which as you can imagine, isn’t going to happen overnight.
“This will take at least the next two months to work through to ensure that they’re from a properly registered voter,” Spokesman for MI Secretary of State, Fred Woodhams said. “Then they’ll make a report to the Board of State Canvassers and the board will vote up or down whether enough signatures were filed. “
“Adults want marijuana legalized for adults,” Hank said. “They want to put the tax money into roads, and schools and local governments and that’s what our plan does. It’s doing what the legislature won’t do. So it’s been well received and we hope people will be able to vote on it in November.”
Fred Woodhams said if the Board of State Canvassers said there is enough valid signatures, and votes to move this initiative ahead, it would then go to the legislature who will have 40 days to consider it.
If they approve it, it becomes law. If the reject it, it will go to voters in November.
LANSING, MI (WLNS) – More than 350,000 signatures are being turned in to state officials Wednesday afternoon in an effort to legalize marijuana in Michigan.
A group of people lined up 61 boxes of ballot signatures outside the Richard H. Austin building in Lansing where the State of Michigan: Bureau of Elections office is located.
East Lansing Attorney Jeff Hank says the group, MILegalize started petitioning in June 2015. Hank says the signatures total roughly 354,000.
On their website, MILegalize says, “We will fight for the rights of every Michigan voter that signed the petition.”
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