As we enjoy this fantastic Sunday afternoon, I can’t help but think about how far the cannabis reform movement has come, not only in Michigan, but all across our great nation. In just 191 days, on November 6, 2018, Michigan voters will finally have the opportunity to decide if cannabis should be legal for adults in our state. As a cannabis reform advocate with 10 years under my belt, it’s always nice to savor victory, but I also understand we have to keep grinding out this process all the way up to election day and I hope this blog encourages you to keep your nose to the grindstone as well!
Right now, cannabis advocates, supporters and consumers are celebrating a major milestone, achieving ballot access, and while we revel in our accomplishment, we must remain mindful of the task that still remains in front of us and that is victory at the polls in November!
I’ll admit, right now the situation looks rosy. Voter support for our proposal is up to 60%, we achieved ballot approval without any legal challenge from our opponents, the Board of State Canvassers unanimously approved our proposal and legislators don’t seem to have a plan yet to derail it! Those are all good signs and were the result of hard work, but every campaign is like a rollercoaster ride, they all have ups and downs and twists and turns, and you’re never certain you’re going to make it back to the platform until the car you’re riding in slowly comes to a complete stop and your seatbelt is removed.
And that’s exactly how we should approach the rest of the CRMLA campaign, like a rollercoaster ride. In reality, the coaster left the station in 2002 and for the past 15 years we’ve been twisted and turned inside out sometimes it seems. Today we’ve crested the last big rise and the station is finally in sight, but we have to remember to hold on tight for that last series of twists and turns because they are always the scariest.
There is only one legalization proposal in Michigan and it is directed by the Coalition to Reform Marijuana Like Alcohol. The Coalition is comprised of groups including the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Michigan NORML, MI Legalize, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Patients Rights Association (NPRA), the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, and the Marijuana Law Section of the Michigan State BAR. There will be no other legalization proposal on the 2018 general election ballot!
Unity is critical to accomplishing our mission! All the groups mentioned above must stay unified and maintain respect for each other throughout the campaign if we expect to win. Look what happened in Arizona in 2016. A coalition of groups similar to ours started a campaign to legalize cannabis in that state but ended up losing the election by 57,000 votes. Had just 1% of the no votes been yes votes, cannabis would be legal in Arizona today.
What happened? It’s simple. Arizonia never quite had the voter support our proposal has. The highest percentage of support that proposal ever received was just 50.4% and that was a month away from the election. Support for our proposal currently sits at around 60%. Additionally, the advocacy community there was sharply divided between the business owners and the cannabis community members against those cannabis businesses. In Michigan, we don’t have that dynamic because we currently have very few licensed businesses and they were not capitalized enough to try significantly influence our proposal’s language. In Arizona, opposition groups including Discount Tire, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry and other anti-cannabis zealots then capitalized on these small divides and pumped $6.2 million into a robust anti-cannabis media campaign. Those circumstances all combined to result in a very disappointing and expensive loss for cannabis reformers. We can’t let that happen on our watch!
So again, please enjoy this beautiful day, but remember, we still have a big job ahead of us. If we’re going to win and scale back prohibition, we must stay in forward at keep moving at full throttle until November. Please stay respectful of each other, at least for another 191 days! And please donate to the campaign. Donating $20, $50 or $100 is the best thing you can do personally at this point to help! Also, make sure that you and all your friends and family members are registered to vote!
Please, help me win!