Devante Johnson, left, 22, of Detroit, signs petitions in August to regulate part-time legislators and make recreational marijuana legal for those over 21 in Michigan. On Monday, a group seeking to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan says it has collected enough signatures to qualify for the 2018 ballot but is struggling to pay off the professional firm it hired to gather them.(Photo: Todd McInturf / Detroit News)
Lansing — A group seeking to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan says it has collected enough signatures to qualify for the 2018 ballot but is struggling to pay off the professional firm it hired to gather them.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol had planned to file petitions with the state as early as Tuesday, but National Petition Management of Brighton will not release final signatures from paid circulators until the group settles its debt of roughly $30,000, spokesman Josh Hovey confirmed Monday.
The committee is “raising the final funds needed to pay off that bill, and then we’ll be good to go with the state,” he said.
Organizers anticipate they will still submit signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State next week, if not sooner, once they secure enough funding to pay National Petition Management, as required by a vendor contract.
“I wouldn’t call it a problem,” Hovey said of the cash shortfall. “We need to pay off our final balance to them and then make sure we double check all the signatures before turning them in. If anything, it’s giving us extra time to make sure that work is done and done right.”
The pot proposal would regulate commercial marijuana production and retail sales in Michigan. Smoking would not be allowed on public sidewalks. Local communities could decide whether they want to allow marijuana businesses.