The big marijuana legalization vote in Ohio today has been national news, but two local legalization races in Michigan may have slipped under the radar.
Keego Harbor, in conservative Oakland County, and Portage, a suburb of blue-collar Kalamazoo, are both voting on local legal proposals that would remove criminal penalties for the possession, use, transfer and transportation of small amounts of marijuana.
The 'local legal' proposals were placed on the two ballots through the petitioning process. Activists leaders in both cities submitted their completed petitions in 2014, but for administrative reasons in each city the proposals were not included in balloting that year.
2015 has already seen one Michigan city approve their version of a local legal program. Voters in East Lansing, home of the Michigan State University, decisively approved their marijuana legalization vote with a 65% YES vote. The state capital city, Lansing, passed a nearly-identical proposal in 2013 by a 63% margin. A second marijuana vote was taken in 2015; tiny Montrose did not approve their local legal program during voting in an odd election where marijuana was the only issue on the ballot.
Michigan has a long history of enabling marijuana law reform on a local level (see accompanying graphic). Much like Lansing/East Lansing, Portage is neighbor to Kalamazoo, whose voters approved marijuana liberalization laws in both 2011 and 2013. Oakland County has seen positive votes for marijuana liberalization laws in Berkley, Oak Park, Hazel Park, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge and Huntington Woods; Keego Harbor hopes to join that group after the polls close today.
Many of the successful petition drives have been initiated by or with the guidance of the Safer Michigan Coalition. Safer leader Chuck Ream has been recognized by national media for his activism and is also a prominent Board of Directors member of the MILegalize organization. MILegalize's Chair, attorney Jeffrey Hank, led the East Lansing and Lansing local legal marijuana petition drives to their successful conclusions.
MILegalize is in the final months of a statewide campaign to legalize adult use of marijuana for those over 21 years of age, allow all adults the same cultivation privileges afforded to medical marijuana patients, and enable the hemp industry.
MORE FROM THE COMPASSION CHRONICLES REGARDING MICHIGAN'S LOCAL LEGAL VOTES:
Source: The Compassion Chronicles