The Michigan communities of Ferndale and Jackson will vote on local marijuana decriminalization initiatives, backers said this week as they handed in petitions full of registered voter signatures. Backers said they were certain they had enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot."There is no doubt we have enough signatures," said Tim Beck, chairman of the Coalition for a Safer Michigan, in remarks reported by the Detroit Free Press. "We have pre-verified every one of them, and our surveys of voters show this is going to pass."
Beck should know. He's been organizing electoral campaigns around marijuana for a dozen years in Michigan, and was a key player in getting decriminalization proposals passed in Kalamazoo in 2011 and Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, and Ypsilanti last year.
A similar petition drive is underway in Lansing, where supporters have until August 6 to submit 4,200 signatures. They have collected 4,020 so far, but need to have a cushion in case some are invalidated.
The Coalition for a Safer Michigan is using the passage of local decriminalization initiatives as a stepping stone toward passage of a statewide decriminalization bill (House Bill 4623) currently before the House Judiciary Committee, Beck said.
"We want to decriminalize it like they have already done in Ohio and New York and more than a dozen other states so that it's the equivalent of a traffic ticket," he said. "If these three initiatives pass in Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing, I think it will be the tipping point for passage of the bill in the House."
The Ferndale and Jackson initiatives must still undergo the signature verification process. As noted above, proponents have expressed confidence about it. Stay tuned for the final word on the petitioning -- and the votes!