You don't have to be a genius to figure this out: It's only a matter of time before Michigan voters get a shot at legalizing marijuana. Yep, another ballot proposal.
"This is real," a source deep inside the movement confirms.
There's been an apparent sea change which began with the first wave, legalization of medical marijuana which Michigan voters approved in 2008.
The always vigilant state Attorney General Bill Schuette, sort of the Paul Revere of the anti-marijuana brigade, warned this was the first step toward total legalization. And he was right, "The grassers are coming!"
The next move is to introduce two bills in the legislature next year; one for total legalization and the second for decriminalization of small amounts. Organizers understand that the latter is much easier to market than the former.
As evidenced by the effort in other parts of the state, Grand Rapids, Ypsilanti, Detroit and Flint, where voters affirmed that. At least three more local initiatives are set for next year with the target cities yet to be determined, but think Saginaw, maybe Muskegon and similar urban areas.
As for the legislature, it's highly unlikely that a conservative dominated GOP House and Senate will go for this. While some of them may have done a joint or two, they would never admit it and never vote yes to let others join in. Yet the organizers understand that but they must still go through the motions. Here's why.
The out state money barons are watching and they want to see at least a head fake in the legislature and if it fails there, that would allow the movement to tell the electorate, we tried but now we have no alternative but to launch a petition drive. At which point, depending on the polling data, the deep pockets could open up.
The polling is a critical element. When the medical marijuana issue was advanced, it had 59% support and eventually passed with 63%. Total legalization begins with only 48% based on non-published findings and described by a source as "not good enough." They need another 10 points to have a shot at this.
In other states, the movement has garnered the support of some unexpected sources.
A police chief in Indiana, of all places, writes if it was up to him, he'd legalize it and tax it and taxing it could have some appeal here. Imagine a ballot proposal with the earmarking of the revenue for the schools or even the roads. You can see the commercials now: Tax marijuana and help your kid get a diploma or fill a pot-hole with legalized grass.
Remember the voters bought the lottery with the hopes of funding all of the schools and while that never worked out, it's still a good pitch the state still uses today.
Of course Mr. Schuette and company would love to wage this war; having lost the medical marijuana fight, he and others are itching to even the score. And should Mr. Schuette pursue a higher office, what a great issue to latch onto for all the free publicity he could soak-up.
In a self-serving moment, he might even sign a petition to get it on the ballot. O.K. Sorry that was a stretch, but you get the point.