Edible marijuana products, such as these cookies, are sold in this file photo from April 10, 2015, in Detroit, Mich.(Photo: Jose Juarez / Special to The Detroit News, file)
Lansing — A campaign to legalize and commercialize recreational marijuana in Michigan is facing opposition from a national group that has fought similar proposals in other states around the country.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana of Virginia is the initial sole donor to the “Healthy and Productive Michigan” committee formed to fight the potential 2018 ballot proposal. Its 501(c)4 nonprofit action fund contributed $150,000 on Dec. 26, according to a campaign finance report filed last week with the state.
The contribution is the latest sign that outside groups could spend big here if Michigan becomes the epicenter of a national battle over marijuana legalization. Vermont recently became the ninth state to legalize the drug despite warnings of possible federal enforcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“Michigan is a priority because it’s been targeted by the pot industry,” said Kevin Sabet, co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “They see it as an opportunity to make a lot of money.”
Sabet said the group will likely donate more to the legalization opposition committee and assist with fundraising efforts in Michigan.
“We’re very concerned about what more marijuana use would mean for Michigan families, kids, the workplace and businesses,” he said.
The Marijuana Policy Project, a national pro-legalization group based in Washington, D.C., helped plan the Michigan initiative and has contributed more than $174,000 in cash and in-kind services to the campaign.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol includes local legalization activists. The committee reported $651,486 in direct contributions for 2017, including $549,238 from Michigan donors.
Spokesman Josh Hovey said organizers expected opposition groups to “start popping up