By Benjie Cooper
YouTube: Lucid’s Vlog
Michigan voters approved Measure 1 on Tuesday, legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults over the age of 21. While the new law will commence a new era of legal cannabis in the state, it does not make any allowances for individuals living under the shadow of past cannabis convictions, except when it comes to licensing.
But after a speech by governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer, it appears that Michiganders who have previous marijuana-related encounters with the legal system still haunting their record may have some hope.
“I think that the people of Michigan have said that for conduct that would now be considered legal, no one should bear a lifelong record for that conduct,” said Witmer during a press conference on Wednesday. “So yes, we will start taking a look at that and making some decisions…taking some action early next year.”
There were more than 20,000 marijuana arrests in Michigan in 2017, the majority of which were for offenses that are no longer punishable under the new law.
“A lot of states have moved forward, if it’s time for Michigan to move forward, I will respect the will of the people, they have spoken,” said Whitmer when asked about the implementation of the cannabis industry under the law. “And so it’s on me to work with the Attorney General to ensure that we have thoughtful regulations that we promulgate, and that’s something that’s really important to me.”
The soon-to-be-governor emphasized her interest in making the integration of cannabis legalization as smooth as possible, noting how she had already received some experienced advice.
“We can learn lessons from other states,” said Witmer. “I’ve already gotten some outreach from experts in states that have moved forward already so that we can avoid some of the pitfalls that they’ve encountered and do it smarter.”
Other states like California have begun implementing post-marijuana-legalization protocols to expunge qualifying cannabis convictions from peoples’ records automatically.