Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 on Tuesday, becoming the latest state to legalize marijuana.
Passed by a 56-44 percent margin, Michigan is the first state in the Midwest to let residents grow, buy and consume marijuana for recreational reasons. Prior to Proposal 1’s passage, the state allowed for the purchase of medical pot with a physician-provided prescription.
But the Detroit Free Press warns voters not to jump to any conclusions. The paper reports that marijuana won’t technically be legal until early December, when the election results are certified.
Cannabis connoisseurs may have to wait until 2020 before they see shops offering non-medical marijuana. As the Free Press explains, ‘the state must still put regulations in place and issue licenses for recreational sales.’
“It’s not going to be an earth-shattering change,” Jeffrey Hank said. Hank, an East Lansing attorney, pushed hard for legalization. He said that that even if it takes times for the proposal to be implemented, “adults will no longer be arrested for simple possession and use of marijuana” after certification is complete.
Michigan’s marijuana victory will likely encourage advocates across the country to press the matter with Congress. Nine other states have already legalized weed—and with Michigan making ten, some say nationwide campaigning is a logical next step.
“The Proposal 1 campaign boiled down into one of fact versus fear,” Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol spokesperson Josh Hovey said in a statement. “The data from the nine other states to have legalized marijuana made clear that regulation and taxation are a better solution. Legalization of marijuana will end the unnecessary waste of law enforcement resources used to enforce the failed policy of prohibition while generating hundreds of millions of dollars each year for Michigan’s economy.”
However, cities, towns and certain commercial interests will still have some sway over marijuana’s spread. Municipalities will retain the right to ban commercial marijuana activity, for instance, and landlords may enforce no-smoking bans in their buildings. A negative result on a drug test could endanger jobs, too, if employers opt to keep a zero-tolerance policy towards pot.
Among the most positive effects of marijuana legalization will be reduced strain on the criminal justice system. NORML executive director Erik Altieri says the regulation and taxation of weed can help states finance under-funded programs and keep otherwise-innocent people out of prison.
“Voters in Michigan sent a resounding rebuke to their state’s failed policy of prohibition and elected to follow a new, more sensible path of regulation and legalization,” Altieri said. “Instead of arresting thousands of citizens a year for possession of a plant, Michigan will now be able to prioritize law enforcement resources towards combating violent crime, honor personal freedom and civil liberties, end the racist application of weaponizing prohibition laws against communities of color and collect tax revenue that was previously going to black mark elements and put it towards important social programs such as education and infrastructure development.”
A Gallup poll cites by Forbes.com shows that 66 percent of Americans nationwide support legalizing marijuana—the highest-ever percentage in a half-century of surveys.