Governor signs law restricting citizen petitions

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LANSING, MICH. (WLNS)- 106,000: that’s how many more signatures the Michigan Bureau of Elections says a ballot drive needs to put legalizing marijuana up for a state-wide vote.

This comes just six days after a pro-legalization group submitted more than 350,000 signatures to the state; but because MI Legalize collected a portion of them more than 180 days before filing the petition, the petition will likely not pass.

This hadn’t been formally engrained in law-but today Governor Snyder changed that.

That new law says petition signatures older than 180 days cannot be counted.

“This clearly was a result of us trying to improve Michigan’s election system,” argues MI Legalize Executive Director Jeffrey Hank.

He says even though the new law is aimed at his effort, it shouldn’t hold up in court.

“You can’t retroactively apply new law to an ongoing campaign.”

Hank is focused on marijuana legalization, but he argues all petitions could be in jeopardy.

“The powers that be realize if the citizens have this initiatory power, we may actually start to try to fix the things that the legislature won’t do. And if people are upset about redistricting, Flint, whatever it might be, this is your way to change things and that’s being taken away.”

Petition procedure aside, when it comes to this debate, State Sen. Rick Jones (R), Grand Ledge, thinks non-medicinal marijuana could be too risky.

“If we have recreational marijuana, we’re going to have more drugged driving, like they do in Colorado.”

That may be a real threat.

Following marijuana’s legalization in 2012, Colorado’s department of transportation says state fatalities involving drugged drivers increased nearly 10 percent in two years.

Hank says the MI Legalize plan would make drugged driving a crime. But he also thinks this debate at large needs to be looked at through a new lens.

“If there is an issue with people abusing marijuana, it shouldn’t be made a criminal issue. It’s a public health issue.”

This is all up in the air until the Board of State Canvassers rules on the petition’s status this Thursday. Hank thinks the decision won’t go in MI Legalize’s favor and says we can expect lawsuits to follow.

ONLINE: Alcohol and impaired driving information

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