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Marijuana Advocates Continue The Fight For The November Ballot

Sep 1, 2016

MI Legalize Logo
Credit Courtesy Photo / MI Legalize

A group that wants to legalize marijuana in Michigan is going back to court. 


There will be a new round of court filings this week in the battle to get marijuana legalization on the November ballot.  The MI Legalize campaign is expected to file a set of motions today in an effort to get the case settled in time for the November 2016 election. 

Last June, MI Legalize filed a lawsuit with the Michigan Court of Claims challenging a signature rule.  The rule says any signatures for a petition gathered outside a 180-day window are invalid.  Although MI Legalize had enough signatures to get on the November ballot, too many of them were outside the 180-day window. 

The campaign says this rule is unconstitutional and a violation of free speech.  Jeff Hank is an attorney for MI Legalize.  

“So we, we kind of step back then and ask the basic question, ‘What is the rational for not counting valid voter signatures on a petition?’  And we haven’t really been given one,” Hank said.

State election officials say the 180-day rule is supposed to ensure only currently registered voter signatures are counted.  Hank says there is a better way to do this.  “We have proof that these people are registered to vote using the state’s own database,” he said.  “That should be sufficient because the law says that’s what the board is supposed to use to canvas petitions anyway.”

Hank says if MI Legalize can’t find relief at the state level, they will be looking higher, even if it means putting off the question until the next election.  “We wouldn’t expect that to happen or relief to be granted if we were to be in front of the Supreme Court in time for November,” he said.  “But conceivably by the next election hopefully we would have some resolution.  Either the Supreme Court will take the case or not.” 

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org