Recreational Marijuana Headed for the Ballot

The Green Door,located on East Liberty Street, is one of many dispensaries in Ann Arbor which sell marijuana products to cardholders.

MCCC students who wish to vote for the legalization of recreational marijuana may have the opportunity next year.
A group is gathering signatures to put the Michigan Marijuana Regulation and Economic Stimulus Act on the Michigan state ballot in November 2016. 
If passed, the marijuana initiative will give Michiganders the explicit right to purchase, possess, and consume marijuana and marijuana products without needing a medical card.
The act states that the consumption of marijuana on public or private property is not subject to arrest unless stated otherwise by law.
The act does not require consumers to be medical card holders, but normal civilian consumers will have more restrictions when it comes to possessing and consuming the herb than card holders currently do. 
You must be 21 years of age to purchase, possess, and consume the product. The initiative also puts limitations on the amount a person can hold as well as grow on their personal property.
Students at MCCC have many opinions regarding the issue, ranging from support, to opposition, to indifference.
Student Kayla Richards supports the legalization of marijuana because of incarceration rates.
“I do think it should be legalized because I think it can reduce crime and reduce our prison population,” Richards said.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, between 2001 and 2010 there were 8.2 million marijuana arrests. Of those, 88% were for just possessing small amounts of marijuana, and 52% of all drug arrests in 2010 were for marijuana.
The number of people who were arrested for a marijuana law violation in 2013 was 693,482, according to drugpolicy.org, and 88% of those law violators were arrested for possession only. 
Student James Parriet supports medicinal marijuana, but he does not support recreational marijuana use. 
“It does have a good purpose behind it because it does help with medical conditions. Recreationally, I say no, only because the simple fact that if we start legalizing too much we’ll have negative effects,” Parriet said.
According to drugabuse.gov, many people describe marijuana as a “gateway drug” to harder substances. A person’s social environment, however, plays a huge role in a their risk for drug use.
Many comments on social media reveal some people fear that legalizing marijuana will make people think it’s okay to do harder substances or even legalize them.
One student, Janice Martyres, expresses concern of marijuana use affecting the professional workplace.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong with marijuana, but I don’t think it should be legal because if people are under the influence of it and they’re a doctor or something it could cause damage from them working,” Martyres said, “It shouldn’t be legal for people to do it anytime.”
Student Jeremy McGarry is indifferent about the legalization of recreational marijuana as long as it doesn’t harm others.
“I really don’t care as long as it doesn’t effect me or harm anyone else. It’s their choice to smoke it and as long as it’s not harming anyone, people should be able to do what they want,” McGarry said.
A few students support recreational legalization because of the economic revenue it could bring to the state of Michigan. Students Sierra Poppenhager, Kyle Bryant and Greg McMillan talked about how revenue could be raised by taxing marijuana purchases.
“I think it would bring in a lot more profits,” McMillan said, “Maybe there would be less problems if it was legalized.”
Poppenhager and Bryant both mentioned taxing marijuana similar to alcohol and cigarettes.
“Economically, it’s a good idea,” Poppenhager said, “They could tax it just like cigarettes and alcohol, it would be no different.”
“I think it should be taxed heavily and the economic revenue would be awesome for Michigan,” Bryant said.
“It should be in a category with alcohol and cigarettes as far as taxation goes.”
Bryant added that regulations should be strict for who can purchase marijuana.
“It should be regulated heavily and tough to get; I don’t think just anyone should be able to get it,” he said.
The Michigan Marijuana Regulation and Economic Stimulus act states that the crop will be regulated and the growth, sale, and use of the product will be taxed.
Calculations from the Colorado Department of Revenue reveal in the first full year of marijuana sales in Colorado in 2014, $385.9 million was raised from medical marijuana and $313.2 million from recreational marijuana. 
The Michigan bill states that sales of marijuana products are subject to a 10 percent excise tax paid by the consumer. The legislature can reduce this number but not raise it.
Forty percent of the net proceeds will go to the department of transportation.
Another 40 percent will go to the school aid fund, and the last 20 percent to the community where the marijuana establishment is located.
Marijuana products given to a person via physician recommendation and those registered in governmental medical marijuana programs are exempt from all excise taxes.