Pot could bring $1B into Michigan, state senator says not worth it
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) - This fall, Michigan voters will decide if recreational pot should be legalized and it could bring billions of dollars to the state. But a Michigan lawmaker says even with the possibility of that much money, it may not be worth it.
The Board of State Canvassers' ruled Thursday that there were enough signatures to put the issue to the voters this year, but first, it goes to the Republican-led legislature and lawmakers could enact it themselves or let it go to the vote in November.
Not everyone is thrilled, including Rep. Peter Lucido.
"I didn't go to Lansing to sit around voting pot in and I won't be a big opponent or advocate either way. If the people want it, so be it. If I have to vote on it, the answer's no," Lucido said.
State of Michigan approves marijuana legalization initiative for November ballot
The legislature has 40 days to consider bills initiated by a petition drive. There was talk some Republicans wanted to approve the pot proposal in hopes of stopping Democrats from flocking to the polls in the fall. Lucido, a Macomb County Republican, isn't betting on it.
"The GOP that I sit with don't think it is a done deal. The GOP I sit with weren't working the intiative," Lucido said. "What are the unintended consequences with this? We bring in a lot of money because of taxes - yay! But we lose the war because health reasons and health risks and other factors that are going to affect society."
Michigan would be the first state in the midwest to approve the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older.
If it's legalized, a 10% tax would be placed on the drug sold at the retail level in addition to the 6% Michigan sales tax
In addition, the initiative would:
License marijuana businesses that cultivate, process, test, transport and sell marijuana;
Legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp (used to make textiles, biodegradable plastics, food, construction materials and even fuel);
Protect consumers with proper testing and safety regulations for retail marijuana;
Impose a 10 percent excise tax on marijuana sold at the retail level on top of the state's 6 percent sales tax;
Give local governments the option of whether they want to allow marijuana businesses in their community.
"It will create a lot of tax revenue and i'm hesitant to predict how much but it'll be quite a bit," Matt Abel with the Cannabis Council.
"Sort of exciting, sort of inevitible. It sort of feels like the train is only moving in one direction," Ben Duell from Fraser
Proponents say other states with regulated pot have seen decreases in opioid-related deaths and unnecessary arrests. Lucido does approve some of the uses of medical marijuana that was approved in the state back in 2008, but he isn't convinced about recreational use
"Law enforcement, I've had people in substance abuse all say it is mounting up and what is the cost factor to the tax payer that is ultimately paying for this."