Lansing, Michigan

LANSING – The battle to free the weed officially started Thursday when the State Board of Canvassers ruled that a group pushing a proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational use got enough signatures to qualify for the Nov. 6 ballot.

The 4-0 decision by the board was met with cheers by advocates for the proposal.

“The people of Michigan deserve this. They earned it,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws or NORML. “We’ve faced many trials and tribulations. We’ve had so many stop and go signs from the federal government. That’s why states have to take the reins on the issue and really be the crucibles of democracy that they’ve always been intended to be.”

It was the second time that the coalition had turned in enough signatures to get on the ballot. The last time, however, it didn’t get the signatures in a state-mandated 180-day window and the petition was thrown out. But the coalition didn’t have the same problem this time around. “We expected this,” said John Truscott, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “Now, we’ll be out and about talking to people and educating them about the issues.”

Scott Greenlee, executive director of the Healthy and Productive Michigan political action committee, which opposes the ballot proposal, urged the Board of Canvassers to keep the issue off the ballot because marijuana is still considered an illegal drug by the federal government.

“By putting this on the ballot, you’re disregarding federal law,” he said. “I recognize that other states have done it, but like my mom always told me, ‘Just because your friends jump off a bridge, doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing.’

“We’re picking and choosing which laws to follow and that’s no way to live,” he said, adding he’s not sure whether his group will continue to fight the Board of Canvassers’ decision in court.

The Michigan marijuana ballot proposal would:

Legalize the possession and sale of up to 2½ ounces of marijuana for personal, recreational use.
Impose a 10% excise tax on marijuana sales at the retail level as well as a 6% sales tax. The estimated revenues from the taxes are at least $100 million.
Split those revenues with 35% going to K-12 education, 35% to roads, 15% to the communities that allow marijuana businesses in their borders and 15% to counties where marijuana business are located.
Allow communities to decide whether they’ll permit marijuana businesses.
Restrict purchases of marijuana for recreational purposes to 2½ ounces but an individual could keep up to 10 ounces of marijuana at home.
Allow the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and not the politically appointed licensing board that will regulate the medical marijuana side of the market, to regulate and license marijuana businesses, ranging from growers, transporters, testers and dispensaries.
Set up three classes of marijuana growers: up to 100, 500 and 2,000 plants.
Michigan voters have already weighed in on marijuana once, approving cannabis for medical use in 2008 by a 63%-37% margin. As of March, 1, 277,752 people are medical marijuana cardholders and 43,131 people are caregivers who can grow up to 72 plants for up to five cardholders. The state is in the process of vetting applications of people who want to get into the medial marijuana business, which is expected to generate at least $700 million in sales.

That financial prediction is estimated to grow to more than $1 billion a year if voters pass the ballot proposal and Michigan becomes the ninth state to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use.

In Colorado, the oldest recreational marijuana market in the nation, sales in 2017 were $1.5 billion.

But getting the ballot proposal passed is not a foregone conclusion, despite recent polls showing more than 60% support for legalizing marijuana.

Healthy and Productive Michigan has $215,286 for the battle ahead, primarily from Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a Virginia-based organization that supports cannabis for medical, but not recreational, uses.

“We’ll continue to press forward with education and explain to the public the problems that recreational marijuana will cause in our state,” Greenlee said. “And once it’s certified for the ballot, we’ll have a number of people from Michigan who will come in and support us.”

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol has raised more than $1 million, but spent the vast majority on paying the firm that collected petition signatures. According to campaign finance reports filed this week with the Secretary of State, the coalition has only $17,326 in available cash for the upcoming campaign.

The action taken by the Board on Thursday will trigger a large fund-raising effort, Truscott said.

“We expect to have quite a bit coming in now that it’s all approved,” he said. “There have been a number of meetings in the last few weeks about that.”

With the Board of Canvassers’ approval, the state Legislature has several options: it could consider the measure and pass it, in which case it would automatically become law; it could offer a competing proposal for the ballot or it could do nothing and let the issue go to the Nov. 6 ballot.

While Republicans might want to keep the issue off the ballot in November — because it’s expected to increase voter turnout that could be more beneficial for Democrats — it would also be a very difficult vote for Republican lawmakers to take as many of them face elections in the fall.

Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-Dewitt, seemed to take the legislative vote option off the table on Thursday.

“I don’t anticipate it happening. There’s not much support in the caucus for it and I personally do not support it,” he said. “I think it’s something that the voters are going to have to ultimately decide.”

Delaware House panel approves marijuana legalization bill

DOVER, Del. – (AP) – A bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Delaware has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

The legislation, which was released Wednesday by a House committee and now goes to the full House for a vote, regulates and taxes marijuana in the same manner as alcohol.

The bill doesn’t allow people to grow their own marijuana but allows adults over age 21 to legally possess less than an ounce of marijuana for personal use.

The legislation would create a commission to regulate, license and tax the marijuana industry, allowing licenses for up to 40 retail stores.

Consumers would pay an excise tax of $50 an ounce, while businesses would pay an application fee of $5,000 and a $10,000 licensing fee every two years.

Vermont legislature approves recreational marijuana use

A measure legalizing marijuana use in Vermont cleared the state’s legislature on Wednesday.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) has said the legislation is not “a priority for Vermont” and has not made a final decision as to whether he will sign it. The measure makes Vermont the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana use among adults and the first to legalize through a legislative process. Other states have approved recreational marijuana use through ballot initiatives.

“Vermont lawmakers made history today,” said Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a marijuana policy group. “The legislature has taken a crucial step toward ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.” Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the possession and use of marijuana, though each state has its own rules and regulations. For example, in Washington — one of the first states to legalize pot — only individuals using the drug for medical purposes can grow it, though any adult is allowed to possess and use it.

In Washington, D.C., marijuana can be used and “gifted,” but not bought, sold or exchanged for other goods or services.

Marijuana use is illegal according to federal policy, and President Trump’s opposition to legalization has created uncertainty for some states seeking to regulate the industry.

If signed by the governor, the Vermont measure would remove civil penalties for possessing one ounce of marijuana or less and would allow adults to keep up to two mature pot plants. It would also create a commission to develop a plan for taxing and regulating the drug.

Michigan – Several proposals to clarify marijuana law

LANSING, MI — The legal status of medical marijuana dispensaries and edible products could be clarified under re-introduced legislation that stalled out last year in the Michigan Legislature.

The proposals would help local communities, patients and caregivers, according to state Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, while allowing “law enforcement to responsibly regulate Michigan’s medical marijuana law in a common-sense fashion.”

Callton, in a Thursday morning press conference, announced a new bill that would provide a regulatory framework for “provisioning centers,” which could sell extra medical marijuana grown by caregivers after the product was tested for quality and contaminants.

Local governments could choose to ban provisioning centers or limit the number of storefronts that can operate under Callton’s proposal.

Separate legislation sponsored by Rep. Lisa Lyons, R-Alto, would allow certified medical marijuana patients to use non-smokable forms for the drug, including liquids, edibles and topical creams.

“The issue we’re talking about today isn’t whether you support medicinal marijuana or not. The fact is voters do, and they did so overwhelmingly,” said Lyons.

“The question today is how do we make sure patients have safe access to medicinal marijuana and, very importantly, how can we ensure parents and patients have alternative measures to using marijuana besides smoking?”

Ida Chinonis of Grand Blanc, whose 6-year-old daughter with a congenital genetic disorder, said she turned to medical marijuana after Bella suffered a seizure that lasted an entire weekend.

She obtained marijuana oil from a dispensary in the Detroit area and provides it to her daughter via oral injection three times a day.

“Our last resort was to try medical marijuana, and so far it’s working,” Chinonis said, noting she had previously given her daughter prescription pharmaceuticals.

Michigan’s 2008 medical marijuana law does not directly address dispensaries or edible products, and a series of court cases have clouded the legal status of both.

The Michigan Supreme Court, in an early 2013 ruling, empowered county prosecutors to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries as a “public nuisance” but similar businesses have continued to operate in many communities.

Similarly, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that “pot brownies” are not a usable form of marijuana allowable under the medical law, raising questions about various “medible” products.

Lansing Police Chief Michael Yankowski said that uncertainty over the status medical marijuana dispensaries makes enforcement and prosecution challenging. He welcomed legislation to clarify the legal status.

“If I have a choice between a shooting and a medical marijuana dispensary, I’m going to investigate the shooting, because we’re clear on what the rules and regulation are,” Yankowski said.

Detroit City Councilman James Tate also offered support for the legislation, as did Sens. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights and Coleman Young II, D-Detroit.

Notably absent from the press conference was the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, which raised concerns about similar legislation late last year and effectively helped kill the bills in the Senate.

The association has not yet responded to a request for comment on the reintroduced bills.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to do this if they’re against us,” said Callton, saying he hoped to engage the sheriffs’ group in the process as the legislation moves forward. “But I do think everyone is starting to recognize we need a rational approach to medical marijuana.”

Iowa – update (KCCDI.Com)

Iowa’s medical marijuana law is barely a year old and some legislators are already looking to change it.

Under a proposed piece of legislation, certain Iowa businesses would be allowed to produce and distribute medical marijuana.

Senate Democrats said they are doing this to expand the availability of the drug for Iowans who need it. They announced Monday that they will introduce the legislation this session.

This comes after a day when two Senate committees heard from a number of residents at the Statehouse who described their difficulties in trying to obtain medical marijuana in order to treat personal or family illnesses.

Last year, Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill into law that allows for the possession and use of cannabis oil to treat chronic epilepsy.

But the law does not provide any way for residents to make or distribute the oil in Iowa. It also prohibits other forms of medical marijuana, which is a huge problem for Iowans who suffer from other illnesses.

The proposed legislation would create a program that monitors the production and distribution or medical marijuana in Iowa.

FULL ARTICLE HERE

Iowa – Medical marijuana at the forefront of legislative sessions

MASON CITY, Iowa – The discussion of medical marijuana was at the forefront of legislative sessions last year in Iowa. Within the state they have approved the usage of medical marijuana, but not a way to obtain the medicine.

On Saturday, State Rep. Sharon Steckman, (D) Mason City, and State Sen. Amanda Ragan (D) Mason City, hosted a legislative forum at the Mason City Public Library. One of the main topics covered during the morning was the discussion of making amendments to the medical marijuana bill that passed in 2014.

Three north Iowa women used the forum as a platform to educate the public about the need to amend and recreate a cannabis oil law in the Hawkeye state. “The laws we have now aren’t sufficient,” says Mason City resident Amber Lenius.

Amber tells us she suffers from a condition that causes her chronic and excruciating pain throughout her body. Claudia Tillman of Forest City was also present at the forum talking about her daughter who deals with symptoms and side effects from Ulcerative Colitis on a daily basis. Finally, Mason City resident Cassie Helland spoke about her young son who suffers from regular seizures because of his epilepsy.

“The law that passed last year said that we could legally have it,” explains Helland, “but there’s no way that we could legally get it.” She says this is just one of the many roadblocks for the bill, and that another issue is not including other types of conditions that could benefit from the plant.

Sen. Ragan says that because the legislation was so new for the state, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle aired on the side of caution and wrote the law in a very conservative manner. “When you make a first step you have to do it with a lot of restrictions on and you need to make sure that you’re not making bad choices,” she explains, “but, we heard from a lot of folks today that [the law] really didn’t make much of a difference to them, and they gave us some suggestions and encouraged us to more research.”

However, more research means more time that the bill won’t be ironed out in a way these women would like to see. Now, they’re left to think outside of the box, and even the state. “At this point, I mean, if something doesn’t happen, we may have to move,” says Helland.

“It would mean uprooting myself, my husband, and my six-year-old daughter, and my two-year-old daughter, from our entire family, to a place that we don’t know, just so that I could have a chance to try something that might help my quality-of-life,” explains Lenius.

Session reconvenes on Monday in Des Moines and as of right now, no changes have been made to the law.

New Dallas Store Selling Cannabis For Medical Use

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Cannabis is coming to Dallas. That’s how a new company is promoting products to sell to the public that has the same chemical ingredient as marijuana.

This is not a medical marijuana firm opening in Dallas, but it is promoting the health and medicinal benefits of marijuana’s cannabis cousin hemp.

Four-year-old Harper Howard became the local example of the benefits of using cannabis hemp oil. Her seizures are decreased, according to her mother, due to the cannabis hemp oil she takes orally. That same oil is now part of a series of skin and energy products marketed in a new Dallas office.

The makers can sell the items legally, and Harper’s mother believes others will benefit.

“Adding this product to her diet took us from 10 to 12 seizures a day to 3-5. It cut them in half,” said Penny Howard.

The products will be available for sale on January 24 at the Kannaway Company.

In Texas, it’s illegal to grow cannabis, but there’s state legislation on the table to change that so that epilepsy sufferers can use the oil.