Jars of marijuana sit on a counter during a sale at the Denver Kush Club pot shop. MI Legalize is working on getting recreational marijuana legalized in Michigan. (David Zalubowski, Associated Press file)

Doubt arises for Michigan marijuana legalization, here’s why

LANSING, Mich. — A group trying to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Michigan might not be able to put the measure before voters on the November ballot after the state elections bureau released an unfavorable report and Gov. Rick Snyder Tuesday signed into law a bill that might rule out thousands of signatures the group submitted last week.

On Tuesday, the state Bureau of Elections recommended in a report that the Board of State Canvassers — which has the authority to approve the petition for voter consideration — reject the petition because the group, MI Legalize, didn’t submit enough valid signatures before the deadline. The report said MI Legalize couldn’t prove that more than 100,000 signatures it collected were actually signed by registered voters.

Also on Tuesday, Snyder signed a bill that stops groups like MI Legalize from counting signatures gathered outside of a 180-day timeframe toward the roughly 250,000 it needs to qualify for voter consideration on a statewide ballot. Without counting signatures gathered outside of that window, MI Legalize does not meet the state’s required signature threshold, and the issue can’t go before voters in November.

The bill Snyder signed into law was drafted after lawmakers learned the marijuana group was attempting to use a legal loophole allowing it to count signatures gathered outside of that 180-day window to meet the signature requirement.

But it’s still unclear if the law applies to MI Legalize. Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office said that the office is reviewing the legislation to see if it would apply to that group and render many of its signatures void.

MI Legalize says they’ve collected about 354,000 signatures — exceeding the minimum requirement. The group has said that it may pursue litigation.

The Board of State Canvassers meets Thursday to consider the issue.

Michigan already has a law allowing marijuana for medical use but this measure would legalize recreational marijuana.