North Dakota Rejects Legalization; Michigan Passes It, But Opposition Vows Local and Legal Battles
After a hotly contested year of campaigning, Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action (SAM Action) and its affiliates went one for one in ballot initiatives. In North Dakota, voters overwhelmingly defeated legalization, while in Michigan, a late surge of funds from Big Marijuana helped bring that state to vote in favor of marijuana commercialization. SAM Action vowed to take the Michigan race to the local level by supporting marijuana store bans and threatening legal action against the pot industry. Also, several key pro-pot house members lost, while some anti-legalization members won or retained their seat. Overall, three pro-marijuana initiatives passed and three failed.
“Legalization is far from inevitable. The results of the election in North Dakota are a huge win for public health, safety, and frankly, common sense,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of SAM Action. “Measure 3 was an effort by Big Pot to pass one of the most wide-open legalization initiatives in history. The defeat is an immense victory for us and our grassroots partner, Healthy and Productive North Dakota.”
“In Michigan, we will take the fight local and stand with citizens who don’t want to see pot shops in their neighborhoods. We are also talking to legal counsel about how to ensure the rights of non-users are upheld; we are looking at liability and other legal action right now,” said Sabet. “Finally, we will continue to work with federal lawmakers to ensure they understand the harm this marijuana industry brings.”
Former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, a co-founder of SAM Action, said:
“We are proud of the work done by everyone who stood in opposition to the marijuana industry. North Dakota voters saw this for what it was – an attempt by Big Tobacco and Big Marijuana to threaten public health, and the voters slammed the door in their face.”
“This is a great day not only for North Dakota but also the rest of America. We have stopped Big Marijuana from using our state as it has others in its constant attempts to become the next Big Tobacco,” said Kristie Spooner, president of Healthy and Productive North Dakota. “We are indebted to our volunteers for showing voters why allowing marijuana in would have forever changed what we have built. We serve as a model for opponents in other states considering legalizing marijuana by showing how this grassroots effort revealed the true nature of the marijuana industry.”
Voters in Michigan sided with the empty promises of Big Marijuana and approved Proposal 18-1.
“While this is not the outcome we wanted, it is the beginning of our fight in Michigan, not the end. We are going to continue our campaign on the local level and stop pot shops, as we have in other legal states,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet. “Our staff and volunteers in Michigan did an incredible job getting folks engaged on this issue. I cannot thank them enough for their hard work and dedication to public health and safety.”
“A hearty thanks goes out to the many doctors, faith leaders, law enforcement groups, and social justice champions who publicly came out in opposition to legalization,” said Patrick Kennedy. “We’re not going away, though, and history will not look upon this vote kindly.”
“It is unfortunate that my fellow Michiganders have chosen to put the commercialization of potent pot candies and lollipops over the future of our young people, the safety of our roads, and the very real issues of mental health and addiction we are suffering from,” said Scott Greenlee, president of Healthy and Productive Michigan. “I am proud of the work done by our volunteers and staff to share with voters how unleashing this industry on our state will harm us. This is just the beginng of our effort.”
“Moving forward, SAM Action and our affiliates will identify communities and work with them to ‘opt-out’ of legalization by banning pot shops and growing facilities like we have done in Colorado, California, and Massachusetts, continued Sabet. “Moreover, we will continue to expose the harms this predatory industry will bring upon the people of Michigan in the form of targeting disadvantaged communities, exposure to minors, arrest disparities, increased drugged driving, and the black market.”