During the 2014 election season, eight Michigan cities have voted to eliminate all local penalties for the possession, use, transfer and transportation of small amounts of marijuana.
Two cities, Oak Park and Hazel Park, made the choice during the August primary election. November 4th's General Election saw six additional cities line up to liberalize their cannabis ordinances.
Passing the legalization measures were Saginaw, Port Huron, Mt. Pleasant, Pleasant Ridge, Huntington Woods and Berkley.
The election was monitored by several groups during election night. A Lansing gathering of Michigan activists posted election results on social media- and on a big wall- as the returns came in from across the state and the nation. Think Live Music hosted the event, which contained the principals from the Safer Michigan Coalition, the state-based organization most directly responsible for the successful local ballot initiatives.
Safer leaders had a lot to say about the election. "I am just so proud of all our local sponsors and petitioners," said Tim Beck, of Grand Haven.
"Onward to victory!" cried Chuck Ream as the election results were read to the assembled revelers.
A second group monitoring the election was on a national basis. 81 ballot proposals and state-based initiatives from across the country (and our protectorates and territories) that proposed to adjust marijuana laws were voted on November 4th. All the elections were monitored by a national radio broadcast featuring Russ Belville, national media personality, and the final numbers were posted on a giant Totals Board. The broadcast initiated from Oregon.
Nationally, marijuana use was legalized in the states of Alaska and Oregon, and Washington, D.C., but the Florida bid to pass a medical marijuana law lost- even though it received more than 50% of the popular vote.
"If 2012's legalization wins in Colorado and Washington were the jabs that shocked prohibition, then 2014's legalization wins in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC are the body blows that leave prohibition staggering," Belville told TCC in an exclusive interview. "Couple those with medical marijuana winning in Guam and, despite failing to meet the 60% threshold, medical marijuana getting the majority of the votes in Florida, and the momentum toward the knockout punch to prohibition in 2016 feels inevitable."
Not every contest was won. In addition to the Florida loss, where the state Constitution demands a 60% approval for amendments of this nature, voters in the Michigan cities of Clare, Harrison, Lapeer, Onaway and Frankfort rejected their bids to legalize cannabis.
"This is a case of urban centers being more liberal than their rural counterparts," said Rick Thompson, editor of The Compassion Chronicles and the Michigan reporter for the Belville broadcast. "These initiatives are the benchmarks of social evolution. That progression of thought is being achieved but, much like America, Michigan is not of one mind on this issue yet."
Jamie Lowell of Ypsilanti's 3rd Coast Compassion, and the chair of the Michigan chapter of the national organization Americans for Safe Access, said, "Now we know where in Michigan we need to spend more time on education and sharing information."