Image of marijuana plants
 
LANSING – Two measures to legalize marijuana could appear on the November 2016 state ballot after the Board of State Canvassers approved petition wording Thursday.
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 At least one and possibly two more measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use could still be on their way to the ballot.
 
The board on Thursday unanimously approved petiton wordings for the Michigan Cannabis Coalition and the Cannabis Law Reform Committee, though board members expressed concern that the petition wording for the Cannabis Law Reform Committee — though apparently meeting legal requirements — was too small and narrowly spaced to make it easily legible for members of the public.
 
Each group must now collect close to 253,000 signatures to send legislation to legalize marijuana before the Legislature. If not approved by lawmakers, the proposed laws would then go before the public in November of 2016.
 
Matt Marsden, a former Senate Republican staffer who is the spokesman for the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, said his group's proposal would provide for the licensing of cannabis growers and retailers and provide tax revenues for the state. Legalizing marijuana could also significantly reduce the Michigan prison budget because the state would no longer lock up marijuana violators, he said.
 
Attorney Jeffrey Hank, chairman of the Cannabis Law Reform Committee, rejected suggestions his group's petition was too hard to read.
 
"I think it's perfectly readable and the wording is publicly available and has been for some time," Hank said.
 
Hank said unlike Marsden's group, his group would not leave ongoing control in the hands of a Legislature, which he said has failed to adequately manage an earlier state law that made medical marijuana legal for those who need it.
 
Recreational marijuana is legal in Washington state, Colorado and Washington, D.C., and is expected to become legal in Oregon this summer.
 
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