Some GOP lawmakers aren’t ruling out approving marijuana legalization instead of letting the initiative make Michigan’s ballot this fall.(Photo: Detroit News file photo)
Lansing — Some Michigan Republicans are considering legalizing marijuana through the Legislature rather than let an initiative make the statewide ballot this fall.
The move would quell GOP fears the ballot measure would boost Democratic voter turnout in November since legislative approval would ensure pot legalization would become law. A January poll showed majority support for pot legalization among surveyed likely voters in November.
“I think everybody in this chamber has thought about that strategy,” said Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, on Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, shifted his tone this week on the marijuana proposal.
He previously downplayed rumors of potential action and told reporters he had not given any thought to the issue.
“We’ll see when it gets through the Secretary of State and the Board of Canvassers,” said Meekhof on Wednesday, referencing an ongoing signature review process, “and then we’ll see if that has any merit.”
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol filed roughly 365,000 signatures with the Bureau of Elections in late November. The signatures were not challenged by a Feb. 9 deadline and are awaiting likely approval by the Board of State Canvassers.
The Michigan Constitution gives legislators a 40-day window to consider legislation initiated by a petition drive.
They typically waive that window and allow measures to go on the ballot.
But there have been notable exceptions and legislative compromises, including a 2014 minimum wage increase Republicans approved to undercut a petition drive.
“We’ll see if they have the signatures — it looks likely they do — but we’ll let folks do their work on it, and it will come to us in