Voters in the tiny city of Montrose, Michigan go to the polls today with only one issue on their ballot: to eliminate criminal penalties for adult use, possession and transportation of marijuana.
The issue was placed on the ballot via a petition drive completed in 2014. Petitions and paperwork were not processed in a timely manner, forcing the issue off the November ballot and bumping it to the next election.
Across Michigan, approximately 60 communities are voting today on various issues. Genesee County Clerk John Gleason announced in December that Montrose's marijuana proposal would be on the February ballot.
Montrose is the first marijuana initiative of 2015 offered up to local voters in Michigan, but it won't be the only one. East Lansing will offer the same marijuana proposal up to their voters in May, when the state votes on the road funding proposal, and Keego Harbor will give their voters a say during the August primary elections.
Both Keego Harbor and East Lansing experienced the same difficulties that Montrose did: a slowdown of processing paperwork that prevented petitions legally submitted within proper time periods from appearing on the proper ballot.
In 2014, 16 petition drives featuring marijuana liberalization proposals submitted enough valid signatures within the proper time to appear on 2014 ballots; 13 of those were processed correctly. Activists connected with the Keego Harbor and East Lansing petition drives suggest the slowdown was intentional; in Montrose, the delay was more administrative and less sinister.
Other Michigan cities will launch petitions and signature drives during the 2015 summer months, including Grosse Pointe Park. A 2014 signature collection drive in that city fell just short of the required number needed due to a technical error on some petitions. Activists promise that drive will be complete, with petitions submitted, in 2015.