Voters in Michigan strongly support the legalization of marijuana in their state, a new poll finds.
The survey, conducted by Public Sector Consulting and Michigan Radio, found that nearly 56 percent of Michigan voters support full marijuana legalization, while just 40 percent oppose it. Cannabis activists are currently gathering signatures for a drive to put the issue on the ballot in November 2016.
The pollsters queried 600 likely voters, meaning the results are probably more accurate than they would be in a poll of all registered voters.
The results should be a boost to the backers of the legalization push. The group behind the campaign, MILegaize, has submitted a petition to allow the cultivation, sale, and possession of marijuana for recreational use. The drug is already legal in Michigan for medical use.
Most likely Midwestern state for legalization
MILegalize hopes to make Michigan the first state in the Midwest to legalize. It’s the only Midwestern state with an active legalization petition in the works, aside from Ohio, where the odds are much more daunting.
Michigan has long been friendly to cannabis reform. Every county in the state voted in favor of medical marijuana in 2008, and support for that program remains high – despite efforts by the state’s conservatives to derail it.
Voters in favor of regulated and taxed system
The new poll has even more encouraging news for advocates. Pollsters asked voters not only whether they support legalization but which approach to legalization they prefer. The largest group of voters, 27 percent, said they would like to see a state-regulated system that pays taxes, as well as rules allowing home growing.
That approach is similar to the petition filed by MILegalize, which would impose statewide regulations, levy a tax, and allow for home cannabis gardens. Members of the group said the poll shows they’re working in the right direction.
“This says that people prefer the MILegalize approach,” said Jamie Lowell, a board member.
A separate proposal to legalize came in second in voters’ preference, with 21 percent. That effort, backed by the mysterious Michigan Cannabis Commission, has gained little news attention and less voter traction. The MCC proposal would prohibit home grows and would allow cultivation only by a short list of state-approved commercial growers.
Even less popular: A system where marijuana is legalized but not taxed.
Legalization efforts must work together
When these three approaches are gauged separately, each falls short of the 40 percent who oppose legalization in any form. But together these three groups make up an easy majority of the electorate.
“The results indicate that this is not a slam dunk, but likely will get passed in some form, eventually,” pollsters said.
Cannabis is now legal for personal use in four states, including Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska – as well as the District of Columbia. Several states are in line to legalize next year, and more are likely to follow.
Michigan, Minnesota, and Illinois are generally considered the most likely candidates for legalization in the Midwest. But conservatives are currently in charge in Illinois, leaving the state with a barely functional medical marijuana program, so full legalization is probably several years away there. Minnesota leaders still appear skittish toward full reform as well.