Chris Thompson • Windsor Star
Apr 26, 2018 • April 26, 2018
Michiganders will be voting in a referendum on the legalization of recreational marijuana when they go to the polls later this year, and cannabis advocates on both sides of the border see it as a great opportunity to boost tourism.
On Thursday the State Board of Canvassers ruled by a vote of 4-0 that the referendum will be on the Nov. 6 ballot after previous attempts to put it on the ballot had failed.
“We’re happy about it,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
Thompson said with Canada legalizing marijuana later this year and polls showing Michigan could follow suit, the possibilities are endless.
“Imagine this,” Thompson said. “If Windsor and Detroit both have similar recreational cannabis programs, it creates an opportunity for international tourism and creates a travel destination that eclipses both borders. This could be advantageous for both nations, both communities, and internationally could set the example that other nations would follow.
“It’s an exciting time.”
A poll conducted by NORML earlier this year found that 61 per cent of adults in Michigan were in favour of legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.
“This jibes with earlier polls this year with Detroit news agencies, so we are extremely confident this will pass once the voters have their option,” Thompson said.
“It gives all adults the opportunity to possess 2½ ounces of cannabis. It essentially gives permissions to the general public that are similar to the permissions given to medial marijuana users under the state’s current medical marijuana program.”
If the referendum is successful Michigan would become the tenth state to legalize recreational marijuana use and the first in the Midwest.
Jon Liedtke, the owner of the downtown Windsor medical marijuana lounge Higher Limits, welcomed the prospect of marijuana legalization in Michigan.
“It’s not going to affect us in a way that some people might be concerned about,” said Liedtke, noting that Michigan will likely set the age for legal consumption of marijuana at 21.
“So it puts us in a position much like a lot of the bars in the downtown area you have that 19- and 20-year-old scene that you’re going to see that have always been coming to Windsor, always taking advantage of the fact that the age disparity existed for the last number of years,” Liedtke said.
“We don’t see it as that big of a hindrance.”
Liedtke said there will be great opportunities for tourism if Michigan follows Canada in legalizing cannabis.
“We already have great food in the region, we’ve got great biking trails throughout the region, and when I say region I mean cross-border,” Liedtke said.
“And you add on the entertainment possibilities as well, we’ve got the Lions and the Tigers, we’ve got hockey. This region is a powerhouse as it is already for tourists to come to. They haven’t quite caught on to that yet over the past number of years, but I think that cannabis legalization on both sides of the border would be one thing that would bring people in.”