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Monday, December 1, 2014

VGIP UPDATE: Can We Wrap Up 2014 Already? - by Ben Horner

The November elections gave the marijuana movement
in Michigan six big wins in cities around the state, as well as some of the Safer Michigan Coalition’s first losses at the polls. The cannabis reform leaders are already gearing up for local initiatives in 2015. Now that the elections are over for the year, many activists attention has shifted back to the two bills in the Michigan legislator that many had hoped would already be passed earlier this year. 

     The Provisioning Center Bill (hb 4271) and the Concentrate and Infused-Product Bill (hb 5104) have been in the Senate for almost a year. Although the bills passed the house with an overwhelming bipartisan majority, getting the bill amended to everyone’s satisfaction has proven to be more difficult. According to current Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, law enforcement groups like the MSP and the Michigan Sheriffs Association have concerns that there are too many loop holes in the bills that could lead to more illegal marijuana sales. Inside sources tell the MMM Report that recently reelected Governor Rick Snyder would like to set up some kind of statewide dispensary oversight. As introduced, the bills leave the responsibility to local municipalities throughout Michigan to regulate these Provisioning Centers. Currently several communities, such as Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Burton, Ypsilanti and others, have began licensing centers after enacting medical marijuana favorable city and township ordinances. According to a statement by Robin Snyder from the NPRA, the National Patients Rights Association, who are currently negotiating with the Governor’s staff to find a compromise before this year’s legislative session is over. The republican caucus is reluctant to approve a bill prior to the blessing from the Governor prior to moving forward with a vote in the senate. There are only nine voting days left in December, and if the bills die in the senate this year the process will start all over again next year. If they do pass, look for some last minutes deal to be cut with the Michigan Republican majority that will be different from the bills that we have seen so far. The bills would go into affect on April first next year if they are passed this December, otherwise it will take several months or maybe years to get another set of bills as far as 5104 and 4271 have come. Considering how much time, money and resources the Medical Marijuana Community has dished out on the dispensary bills, a failure here would be a big surprise and a huge let down.

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