Legalizing cannabis for recreational use in Michigan will make the state safer by closing the black market for marijuana and keeping it out of the hands of children.

That's what State Representative Jeff Irwin said after introducing Bill 4877 to the state legislature September 17.

"My bill builds on the practices modelled by Colorado," Irwin added, "regulating marijuana much like alcohol."

The Democrat from Ann Arbor foresees this legislation as a way to save Michigan money while decreasing crime.

"Prohibition has been a colossal failure," he noted. "It costs us hundreds of millions of dollars every year, and it doesn't work. Instead, it increases crime and fuels violence."

Legalization, he hopes, will give legislators "greater control over the product, take business away from criminals and refocus police resources on the most dangerous crimes."

The bill includes details that are becoming standard for motions to legalize cannabis. Here are the highlights:

  • residents ages 21 and over will be allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis on their person and grow up to 12 plants in their residence.
  • an excise tax on cannabis would begin at 5% on the wholesale market, and increase by 1% over five years before freezing at 10%.
  • 40% of the excise tax would be spent on early childhood education; another 40% on road construction; and the final 20% on programs for substance abuse treatment.
  • customers would pay a 6% sales tax on cannabis.
  • legalization could expect to generate approximately $100-million in tax revenue annually.

You can read the full text of the bill here.

The bill has been read once in the legislature and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. If the legislature votes down the bill, voters may end up deciding the matter for the state. It was introduced by a Democrat in a state legislature controlled by the Republicans, so a ballot initiative likely represents the best chance for legalization.

Currently two independent groups - he Michigan Cannabis Coalition and the MILegalize - gathering the 252,523 signatures required to make legalization a ballot question for November 2016.

Check back with us for updates as the push for legalization develops.

h/t mLIVE, crowdfundraiser.com