The organization with the clear shot is MILegalize; with more than 200,000 petition signatures collected and national media attention, MIlegalize could qualify for the ballot and withstand the intense pounding Michigan’s conservatives are likely to bring before the November 2016 election. Tommy Chong endorses MILegalize, as do legislators and industry giants. MIlegalize released their 2016 Prospectus, they are pushing the Board of State Canvassers to modernize the collections and verification processes, and continue to collect signatures to this day.
As the Prospectus reads, ”Petitioning and campaigning continue statewide while our organization handles the administration of the campaign in Lansing… Our 2015 plan was successful. We augmented the ‘volunteer army’ of petitioners with professionals to create a solid core group of activists and an indisputable volume of verified signatures.”
Another organization with more than 100,000 petition signatures collected is the MCC. Started by Republican political strategists Marsden and Darnoi, their real-life company sells personal data and voting statistics to conservative organizations and candidates in Michigan. Speculation was widespread that the MCC was never serious about legalization- the principals admitted that they do not smoke nor have any interest in the medicinal herb- and that they were simply gathering data they can sell over and over again for years to come.
After the group announced that they were “suspending” their campaign in the fall, Marsden has disappeared from all media mentions. A rumored New Year’s press conference never materialized, and the man who thought it was funny to wear a goofy baseball hat, scuffed boots and old jeans to a formal television taping with elected representatives is not currently a factor in Michigan marijuana politics.
Also no longer a factor in Michigan marijuana politics: Mr. Irrelevant, aka Tim Beck and his MRC group. Mr. Irrelevant is the term used in the National Football League for the very last guy selected each year in the college football draft; Beck seems to fit that bill, as he has been left out of every other significant movement in Michigan politics except the ones he created himself. Rev. Steven Thompson has described how Beck was bounced out of the Executive Director position in the Michigan chapter of NORML under a cloud of suspicion; his tomfoolery made the Marijuana Policy Project want to leave Michigan in 2007 and bring medical to Ohio (Matthew Abel explains that only assurances from statewide leaders that Beck would NOT be involved kept the MPP money in Michigan); he was in the MACC, then was out, he was in CPU, then was out, and the only organization that seems to want to keep him is his own Safer Michigan Coalition.
The MRC has NEVER submitted a petition to the state for approval, despite the constant presence in the legislature of Beck and his two powerful Republican pot-hating sidekicks: Ms. Mitchell (think super duper Sour Patch Kid gummies with shards of glass inside) and Mr. Wellday (think shards of glass with a little super duper Sour Patch holding them together). This Responsible Ohio-wanna be organization was kicked in the crotch when the ultra-rich kids in Ohio got their asses handed to them at the ballot box in November. Their plan has morphed more often than an X-Man on assignment; who could support an organization that doesn’t know what it stands for?
Recent news reports indicate that the MRC won’t make a decision about running a campaign until late February, a date that leaves them very little time to collect signatures. Their website claims their 501(c)6 non-profit status is still “in formation.” Oddly enough Beck, who once famously called the MILegalize organization a “hippie pipe dream”, may be searching for social relevance after the demise of the MRC and could try to attach himself, leech-like, to the MIlegalize campaign for all the fun stuff after the hard work is done. Interesting.
The fourth group is the Abrogate organization. Their petition was approved for signature collecting within the last month. Unlike the MIlegalize group, Abrogate is trying a Constitutional Amendment- that move requires nearly 100,000 more validated voter signatures than the MIlegalize plan. Their petition’s language is inspiring and highly optimistic.
Abrogate is currently collecting signatures in Michigan, and has employed new methods in reaching the public. Their message is perhaps a little ahead of its time, and their organization lacks experience, but their volunteers are highly loyal and intensely committed. The abbreviated time frame their campaign has, and the additional signature requirement, makes them a very remote long shot to make the ballot.