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Michigan Elections Staff Recommends Rejection of “MI Legalize” Initiative Petitions to Legalize Adult Use of Marijuana

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Michigan Elections Staff Recommends Rejection of “MI Legalize” Initiative Petitions to Legalize Adult Use of Marijuana

As we have previously reported, on June 1, 2016, “MI Legalize” submitted petitions to the Michigan Board of State Canvassers for a 2016 ballot initiative that would legalize the adult use of marihuana. This year, petitions for an initiated law require 252,523 valid signatures to make the ballot.

In addition to the constitutional requirement, Michigan law provides that signatures obtained more than 180 days before petitions are filed are “rebuttably presumed” to be stale and void. Board of Canvassers policy provides a method to rebut that presumption, but MI Legalize, and others, contend that the policy is functionally unworkable. 

Today, Board staff issued a recommendation finding that the MI Legalize petitions contain at most 146,413 valid signatures gathered within the 180-day period. Concluding that MI Legalize failed to comply with Board policy to rehabilitate older signatures, staff recommends that the Board reject all older signatures, and certify the petition as insufficient.

The Board of Canvassers has set a meeting for this Thursday, June 9, at 9:00 am, in Room 426 of the State Capitol, to act on the recommendation. Although the staff recommendation does not come as a surprise, supporters of MI Legalize can at least take some comfort in the fact that the Board appears ready to act quickly, providing MI Legalize with more time to mount a court challenge to the Board decision and signature rehabilitation policy. Had press reports that the Board might wait several weeks to render a decision been true, there would have been very little time for MI Legalize to win a challenge and return for certification of signatures, allow the Legislature to have its constitutionally mandated 40 days to consider enacting the initiative, and still make the ballot in time for printing deadlines imposed by state and federal law. As it is, the calendar is still short for MI Legalize.

Check back in with the Cannabis Law Blog in the coming days for more coverage of the MI Legalize “battle for the ballot.”