We the people of Michigan have spoken; and we want recreational marijuana legalized in the state of Michigan. Numerous polls, numerous petitions, and numerous discussions around the water-cooler prove that Michiganders want marijuana legalization. As we have seen in other states, common sense regulation and drug education can create a safe, profitable marijuana industry that also positively impacts local communities. This new industry can help bolster the state's economy, create a new tax source for our schools and roads, and has the potential to be used as a part of the solution in combating the numerous health problems afflicting many citizens.
For a short time I had the pleasure of living in Fort Collins, Colorado. A state that is well-known for its legal marijuana and beautiful vistas. While living there I saw first hand the positive effects of marijuana legalization and how the tax revenue helps local communities. I also saw first hand that many of the worries about legalization and the myths surrounding cannabis were unsubstantiated or flat wrong. Therefore, I want to largely base my plan for marijuana legalization on one that we have seen work. Working with my constituents and fellow legislators, I want to roll out a legalization system that is similar to that of Colorado's, with a few caveats that are pure Michigan. With a focus on using the tax revenue for our infrastructure, our schools, and our local communities. A plan that can be a key part in ensuring a brighter, better future for Michiganders.
Helping Local Farmers
From the corn fields out in Yale to the cherry trees of Traverse City, it's no secret Michigan has a green thumb. We have a dedicated group of hard working farmers that keep our bellies full and give us proud titles like "Cherry Capital of the World." Sadly, the farmers that are up before the rooster calls, and in bed after the sun has set, are seeing their way of life becoming harder and less affordable. I believe marijuana legalization can play a part in reinvigorating our local agricultural industry. I want to do so by protecting local farmers by passing laws that will enable them to grow a new source of income while giving them the legal tools needed if they choose to grow cannabis or hemp. I plan on doing so by re-classifying industrial hemp so that it can be easily grown by our local farmers, giving them access to a new sector of the Michigan economy. This creates job opportunities that allow farmers to either diversify the products they grow or to monetize their knowledge and wisdom as contractors, inspectors, and consultants for a new Michigan-based marijuana industry. I also believe legalization has the chance to create a new sense of enthusiasm in agriculture that encourages a fresh generation to engage in a humble, historic profession that is not appreciated enough.
Rebuilding our Infrastructure
In my discussions with friends and family about their most pressing concerns in the district and the state, they all immediately respond with infrastructure. Whether they are talking about roads, bridges, public access sites, poor internet and cell phone signals, or even cracks in the sidewalk, they all point out the frustration that is Michigan's current state of infrastructure. Many politicians and candidates say that once they get into office they are going to repair the roads and fix our bridges. But, where will the money come from?
My plan for marijuana legalization answers this question. The state sales tax attached to marijuana will be a new revenue source that can be used to start a new, aggressive reconstruction campaign for our physical and digital infrastructure. An end to marijuana prohibition within our state has the financial potential to make Michigan roads a pleasure to drive on as opposed to a battle. Legalization also has the potential to fund projects for local communities so that they can address the specific problems within their locality.
Pot for potholes, I believe that's a fair trade.
Enforcement & Education
I would like to iterate: I still understand the concerns many have with marijuana legalization. While many agree that marijuana is safer than alcohol, they also rightfully point out that it is still a mind-altering substance. While studies confirm that cannabis is safer than alcohol, and for some it even acts as a medicinal aid, there is still a stigma and danger attached to consuming it. I believe that we can safely legalize marijuana by leveraging the Excise Tax to educate students and adults about marijuana while also passing laws that ensure the safe use of cannabis.
In my plan, the Excise Tax collected from marijuana-based businesses will be used for our schools. There is no shortage of improvements, from technology and facility updates to better teacher wages, that this money can be used for. A portion of the revenue generated will be used towards drug and alcohol education, and counseling within our schools. While education is key in keeping our children protected, we also need to have laws that protect our communities.
In my plan, the treatment of marijuana will be similar to that of alcohol. Only adults and those with prescriptions from medical professionals may be able to purchase and consume marijuana. This will mean strict enforcement of regulations on the marijuana industry to ensure that our children and local communities remain safe. This includes laws that stop marijuana from being marketed towards underage individuals and ensuring that those who do consume marijuana do so responsibly and within a strict limit of the law. I will also ensure that communities have the right to reject cannabis-based businesses if they so choose. We must create a safe, well educated culture of cannabis consumption that provides individuals and communities the knowledge, and the right, to choose how they want to handle legalization.