By the slimmest of majorities, Michigan voters support legalizing marijuana and distributing it like alcohol sales in the state, according to a poll released by the Marketing Resource Group on April 24.
51% of respondents told interviewers they somewhat support or strongly support the concept during the MRG poll, conducted in April with 600 Michigan residents with a history of voting.
The numbers may not accurately reflect the view of Michigan citizens. By screening out voters without an established history of voting the methodology excludes some of legalization's most strident supporters- the under 29 voting group (69% YES).
Treating marijuana like alcohol is not universally supported among advocates of marijuana legalization, nor is that model looked upon as a good program to imitate.
Other states have had a difficult time pushing the regulate-marijuana-like-wine concept. California voters rejected that proposal at the ballot box. In Washington State, involvement by the state Liquor Control Board has led to a dismantling of the medical marijuana program. The question creates a negative response even among those who would likely vote in favor of a legalization scheme, if offered.
Voters in the city of Detroit have expressed dissatisfaction with the liquor distribution system in their communities. During a recent community group meeting in Detroit's 2nd District, advocates sided with prohibitionists when the idea of allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to operate with the same rules as the alcohol industry. "Bars on top of liquor stores, that's what we got," one activists told me. "We gotta do better than that with medical marijuana."
Poll results indicate an uncharacteristic dip in marijuana support within the state's largest city. Detroiters were more negative (44% YES) when responding to the MRG question than any other region of Michigan except the Upper Peninsula. By contrast, their other Wayne County community residents responded with the highest degree of support of any region included in the survey (59% YES).
What this clearly indicates is a multi-tiered system of state-regulated marijuana stores created under the authority of a Lansing-based Board like the Liquor Control Commission is not what the people want. Legalization programs imitating the state's liquor distribution system have been suggested or directly offered by diverse voices including Rep. Klint Kesto, the Michigan Cannabis Development Association and the Michigan Resource Group.
Those proposals seem to be D.O.A. with Michigan citizens. Other legalization programs, such as legislation offered by Rep. Jeff Irwin and a ballot proposal from the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative (MILegalize), could anticipate that their support is higher than the survey results indicate.
One local expert thinks this is just the beginning. "51% is just a start," said David Rudoi, attorney from Royal Oak. "Once the public sees how comprehensive the MILegalize proposal is, I believe the support will go higher."
Source: The Compassion Chronicles