Making a push to put pot on the ballot

Hundreds of students sign marijuana ballot petition

Ferris chemistry junior Michael Williams collects signitures for a petition to make marijuana a 2016 ballot proposal in Michigan.
Ferris chemistry junior Michael Williams collects signitures for a petition to make
marijuana a 2016 ballot proposal in Michigan. Photo by: Devin Anderson
 For some Ferris students, marijuana legalization and regulation in Michigan is legislation that seems long past due.

Hundreds of Ferris students signed a ballot petition by MI Legalize last week to add legalization of marijuana and hemp to the 2016 voter’s ballot in Michigan.

“I don’t want to be afraid anymore,” said Ferris heavy equipment technology freshman Braden Schultz. “People get locked up and their lives ruined over a plant. And you read about all of these scientific things marijuana can do, like in medicine and materials. It’s time for things to change.”

Ferris heavy equipment technology freshman Noah Baran had a similar opinion saying he believes marijuana should be treated like alcohol, to be used recreationally by adults within similar guidelines.

The new law would also add provisions for gathering a 10 percent tax from the sales of licensed marijuana dealers, 80 percent of which would go to fixing roads and funding schools in the Michigan. The other 20 percent of taxes collected would go back to the city or township the licensed seller is located in.

However, the petition didn’t hold the appeal for some students that it did for supporters.

“No, I haven’t signed the petition,” said Ferris advertising and integrated marketing communications junior Cate Redfern. “It’s not that I totally disagree with it. I just don’t want my name on something that could affect my reputation.”

Michael Williams, the organizer of last week’s ballot petition, is a Ferris chemistry junior who is passionate about the legalization of marijuana and hemp for medicinal, recreational, and industrial use.

Williams is also in the process of forming a student organization called Students for Sensible Drug Policy. SSDP is a chapter in progress at Ferris State and has more than 120 signatures from students interested in starting the RSO.

“We don’t condone drug use at all,” said Williams. “We are for sensible policy. We are for opening the conversation, we’re for creating education and leadership opportunities for students.”

One goal Williams has for the SSDP is to open the conversation about permission to carry medical marijuana on campus for prescribed users.

Michigan is one of 23 states in the union that has legalized marijuana for medical use. More than a dozen cities in Michigan have voted to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession beginning with Ann Arbor in 1972, with the vast majority of these cities voting to decriminalize in the last few years.

“On our campus it does not matter if you have a medical use card,” Williams said. “If you possess marijuana on campus you are in violation of campus policy. You will be referred to student conduct and you may face criminal action.”

Williams said he’s looking for students, administrators and public safety to have a healthy debate about marijuana policies on campus.

“We are a university with a massive medicine and pharmacy program. We have a great criminal justice program. There is no reason we shouldn’t be on the forefront of helping to develop these new laws,” said Williams.

To learn more about MI Legalize, visit