By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
Nearly 80 percent of Michigan voters favor eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana offenses, according to survey data released by Epic-MRA Polling and commissioned by the Michigan state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Forty-seven percent of respondents said that they backed legalizing marijuana "by taxing it and regulating it like alcohol." An additional 16 percent of respondents endorsed "replac[ing] criminal penalties for marijuana offenses with a fine" only. Another four percent of respondents supported an outright "repeal" of all state criminal penalties for cannabis offenses.
Only 26 percent of those polled said that supported continuing the present system of state criminal penalties for marijuana offenses. Under state law, the possession of marijuana for non-medical purposes is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Six hundred likely voters participated in the survey, which has a margin of error of ±4 percent.
Lansing voters will decide this fall in favor of a municipal initiative repealing criminal and civil penalties involving the adult possession of cannabis by adults on private property. Last year, voters in four Michigan cities --- Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, and Ypsilanti- all voted overwhelmingly in favor of municipal measures to depenalize marijuana offenses.