Michigan’s Proposal 1 will let people 21 and older possess, use, and buy marijuana for recreational use, and allow individuals to grow up to 12 pot plants in their homes for personal consumption. It will also set up a system through which the state government can license and regulate marijuana businesses, from growers to retail outlets, and impose a 10 percent sales tax on marijuana, with revenue dedicated to implementation of the initiative, clinical research, education, infrastructure, and municipalities with marijuana businesses.
All of this would be implemented over the next few years.
Local and municipal governments will be able to ban or restrict marijuana businesses.
Medical marijuana is already legal in Michigan, so the initiative has limited impact in that area.
Beyond Michigan, 2018 has been a big year for marijuana legalization. This year, California opened the world’s biggest legal marijuana market, Vermont legalized marijuana possession (becoming the first state to do so through its legislature), and Canada became the world’s first wealthy nation to fully legalize pot.
Supporters of legalization argue that it eliminates the harms of marijuana prohibition: the hundreds of thousands of arrests around the US, the racial disparities behind those arrests, and the billions of dollars that flow from the black market for illicit marijuana to drug cartels that then use the money for violent operations around the world. All of this, legalization advocates say, will outweigh any of the potential downsides — such as increased cannabis use — that might come with legalization.
Opponents, meanwhile, claim that legalization will enable a huge marijuana industry that will market the drug irresponsibly. They point to America’s experiences with the alcohol and tobacco industries, which have built their financial empires in large part on some of the heaviest consumers of their products. This could result in far more people using pot, even if it leads to negative health consequences.
With Tuesday’s vote, supporters have gotten a big victory in the Midwest.
For more on marijuana legalization, read Vox’s explainer.