Michigan could be closer to legalizing recreational marijuana use, and the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners is taken a proactive approach to the possibility.

According to a new survey from Marketing Resource Group (MRG), 58 percent of 600 Michiganders surveyed would support the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes if it were taxed and regulated like alcohol. Thirty-six percent surveyed were against the measure. The survey recorded political affiliation and ranked responses from “Strongly Oppose” to “Strongly Support.”

“While attitudes toward marijuana may be mellowing, most Republican voters and those 65 and older still are not ready to legalize it,” said Tom Shields, president of MRG. “Support for legalizing recreational use of marijuana has grown from 41 percent in 2013 to 58 percent in just the last four years. I would not be surprised to see a successful ballot proposal within the next few years.”

Supporters of legalization were 71 percent of Democrats, 56 percent of independents and 46 percent of Republicans. In opposition were 48 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 25 percent of Democrats.

Geographically, the poll showed support over 50 percent in all areas of the state except the Tri-Cities area of Flint, Saginaw and Bay City and in the northern-lower Michigan counties.

“Historically, ballot proposals need to have support over 60 percent when the campaign starts to be able to withstand the potential onslaught of negative advertising from those who oppose it,” said Shields. “We could be on the verge of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, but we’ll have to wait and see how the campaign plays out.”

On Tuesday, May 23, at the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners meeting, the board voted unanimously to allow Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck to sign a resolution against the legalization of marijuana in the state. The Lakeshore Regional Entity had requested the board approve a resolution, approved by the Ottawa County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

“Most likely, legalized marijuana will be on the ballot in 2018, so we as a board thought we would get ahead of their lobbyists,” said Commissioner Allen Dannenberg. “Legalized marijuana is not the answer.”

Ottawa County Administrator Al Vanderberg urged caution, saying, “the board has been cautious about adopting resolutions (on issues it has) no control over.”

In the resolution, it’s stated the Ottawa County Youth Report, via the Youth Assessment Survey (YAS) in 2015, reported that only 54 percent of students thought marijuana use was risky; 43.3 percent of students surveyed reported that it would be easy or very easy to get marijuana; and 14 percent reported that they have tried marijuana.

It was also stated the University of Colorado-Denver reported that marijuana-impaired driver related fatalities have risen 114 percent in Colorado since that state legalized the general use of marijuana.

While the issue might be decided at the ballot box next year, the resolution was an encouragement to communities within Ottawa County to oppose any ballot initiative.

Originally published by the Holland Sentinel

 

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