GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After a pitched battle that went on for years, when the clock strikes midnight Thursday, it will be 4:20 in Michigan.
Roberta King was forefront among the hundreds of people who worked to get Proposal 1 on the ballot after a similar proposal had failed to make it two years earlier.
“It’s exciting. It’s exciting to be on the forefront of something this important, to be here in this place when prohibition ends," said King, who is co-owner of marijuana PR firm Canna Communication.
The proposal passed by comfortable margins in Kalamazoo, Kent and Muskegon counties, while failing in Allegan and Ottawa counties. Ultimately, it carried statewide.
King said the fact that people will no longer face time behind bars for possession and use is good for society.
“It’s not just access to the plant for everybody and anybody who might want to try it, but the decriminalization — that’s the important part, that’s sort of the heart of it,” she said. “It’s going to bring families back together instead of tearing them apart."
But she said the recent attempts by the state Legislature to rewrite the proposal show the fight may not be over.
“I don’t think it’s time to give up, that if you’re concerned about cannabis, you should be calling you representative and your senator and let them know,” King said.
Not everyone is happy about legalization. Grand Rapids consultant Scott Greenlee, who led the opposition to the proposal, says that the state is not ready for the problems that police, employers and health care are about to face.
“We anticipate a lot of unintended consequences that we talked about during the campaign are going to be real to people tomorrow and that’s too bad. We think we’re unprepared," he said.
He said things moved too quickly, before there was a chance to work out regulations.
Sarah Ackley-Jasick is a medical marijuana patient who says the change will be good for her.
“I do hope that it reduces the stigma and more people can be out, open and talking about it and it being no different than really going out to a brewery and we have them on every corner, so I don’t see how it’s so different," Ackley-Jasic said.
King said in the coming days, things could get hectic.
“Probably the day of and following days, there will be a rush and people will be checking it out and then it will settle down to something normal,” King said.
While possession will be legal Thursday, there is still no legal way to sell or buy marijuana until the state sets up licensing and taxation.
“What it is, is it’s decriminalized right now. It’ll be available to buy it legally in 18 months, but it is kind of a tease,” King said.