Usually when you hear about state politicians trying to legalize marijuana, it's cause for celebration. But in the state of Michigan, it's actually a cause for concern.
Michigan Republicans are desperately trying to legalize recreational marijuana before this November, when the state's voters can do so through ballot initiative. The GOP is worried that the marijuana ballot initiative will bring out more voters than normal, many of whom will probably be more progressive since liberal-leaning individuals are more likely to support cannabis legalization. Therefore, they believe the ballot initiative will bring more votes for Democrats and hurt their chances of winning elections.
The latest ploy by Michigan Republicans is to tie a marijuana legalization bill with a tax cut. The proposal will cut the state's income tax (although the amount has not been decided), and make up the lost revenue with a 10 percent excise and six percent sales tax on marijuana.
Their proposal will also change how the recreational marijuana industry is regulated. The ballot initiative set for this November would put the industry under the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, but Republicans want to put it under the same board that regulates the medical marijuana industry, which consists of people appointed by the governor and the state legislature. Of course, that board is currently embroiled in controversy as it drags its feet in licensing medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan, but that may be the intent.
While Republicans in the Michigan Senate may have enough votes, it appears that may not be the case in the House. Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, a Republican, opposes legalizing marijuana, even if it's tied to a tax cut. And he says there isn't much interest among other House Republicans either.
But if it becomes clear that their will be a major Democratic wave of voters in November, don't be surprised if they change their tune.
(h/t Detroit Free Press)