It’s Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, April 16th, 2018
Sensing that legalizing marijuana in Michigan might be inevitable, some Republicans want to get in front of the issue to try to avoid political catastrophe in November.
A petition campaign to legalize marijuana in Michigan has cleared a bunch of hurdles. The group pushing the initiative says they have turned in enough signatures to get on the ballot in November.
Recent surveys show that Michiganders are growing more accepting of the idea of legalizing marijuana in the state.
Four years ago an EPIC-MRA poll showed that half the state’s voters favored full legalization. According to a poll last month, that number is now up to 61 percent in favor.
Now, presuming the petition signatures are certified, this question doesn’t actually have to go to the ballot. The Legislature has the option to preempt that step by adopting the initiative and allowing it to become law.
Republicans, some who are even opposed to legalizing marijuana, are starting to reconsider their position. Their concern is if the legalization question is on the ballot in November, it could increase turnout, especially among young progressives and single-issue pro-marijuana voters. And, in an election year that right now isn’t looking great for Republicans, the GOP doesn’t want anything to increase progressive voter turnout.
We’ve seen this playbook used before. Four years ago, it appeared a ballot initiative run by a progressive group to increase the state’s minimum wage might be popular at the polls. That was also an election year. Republicans approved an increase to the state’s minimum wage and kept the question off the ballot.
Now, the Legislature’s GOP leaders say they haven’t really talked about this issue of marijuana legalization yet.