Pot advocates push to get it legalized in Michigan
(WJBK) - There's another push to legalize pot in Michigan and backers hope this time they get it done.
Marijuana advocates have launched a ballot drive so voters can decide the issue.
"I am confident that if we give voters a choice to end prohibition and have a change they are going to say yes," said Jeff Irwin.
But they have still have a long road ahead.
Jeff Irwin is the political director for the group coalition to regulate marijuana like alcohol and he says workers will have to collect more than 250,000 signatures in the next 180 days to give voters the chance to legalize pot.
"Our proposal is to give voters a chance to flip that around," Irwin said. "And bring this trade into the light where we can control the time, manner and place instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to bust people.
"Instead gather hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to improve schools, pave roads and help local governments."
Under the petition language, legalized pot would be taxed 16 percent with revenues estimated up to $200 million.
So far eight states including California and Colorado have legalized marijuana and are reaping the financial benefits.
But Jodi Debbrecht Switalski - a former judge who now travels around the world speaking about the dangers of substance abuse, believes we need to take a closer look at the effects.
"The voters really have to decide," she said. "We have to be educated in that decision. The rates of drugged driving has superseded the rates of drunk driving, children being referred to the office for behavioral disorders, assaultive behaviors, a-motivational syndrome have all increased in Colorado."
She's not for or against pot, but Switalski is pro-regulation. She is worried about the potency of the pot and the long term health impact.
"Most importantly the potency is unregulated," she said. "Back in the 1960s or 1970s we saw potency rates hovering around 10 percent, some were a little bit lower and some were a bit higher.
"Now in Colorado we are looking at potency rates in the 20s and even the low 30s."
While the coalition is pushing to get it on the ballot it's also planning to educate the public on the misconceptions of marijuana.
Although law enforcement is traditionally against legalizing pot - Irwin points to the numbers. In Colorado - arrests and traffic fatalities have gone down.
Irwin claims it's also helping to combat the opioid crisis by giving adults what he calls a safe alternative.
"Responsible adults can use alcohol, responsible adults can use marijuana," he said. "Let's treat this as a public health issue."