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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Michigan News for October 2015 - by Rachel Bunting

State Rep Views Legalization as ‘Staying Consistent with American Values’
LANSING: On Thursday September 17th, Representative Jeff Irwin introduced legislation that, if approved and passed, would legalize and tax the private use of marijuana for adults 21 and older. The Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act (HB 4877) would allow residents of the state to grow a limited number of plants for personal use, but would restrict sales to licensed dispensaries only. It would, however, allow adults to transfer one ounce or less between themselves so long as no money is exchanged.

     Irwin told the Michigan Daily that he sponsored the bill ‘because he sees giving adults the right to make their own decisions as consistent with American values.’ The new bill would impose the usual 6 percent sales tax as well as an additional 5 percent excise tax on the whole sale market. The excise tax would increase by 1 percent each year capping at 10 percent after a 5 year period. According to a Michigan House Democrats press release, the revenue from the marijuana excise tax could total around $100 million. Forty percent of that revenue would go to early childhood education; another forty percent would go to Michigan roads, while the final twenty percent would be put into funding for substance abuse treatment programs. Irwin feels that legalization would save money on the failure that is prohibition, and would keep the money out of the hands of criminals looking to sell on the black market.

     Irwin also notes that while an increase in teen use is a concern among many, “the law has very little impact on what people choose to do. If you look at what’s happening in Colorado, teen use is pretty much the same as what it was before legalization.” There is a good chance that the bill will not pass, but according to a third-year law student, who is head of Law Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Irwin’s bill could potentially add momentum to the debate in Michigan.

Lawsuit Filed Against the City of Warren
WARREN: Attorney Michael Greiner filed a lawsuit against the city of Warren on behalf of 23 medical marijuana patients this month. The suit demands up to $5 million in damages for the patients, who claim they have been harassed and ticketed by Warren police. The lawsuit states that police had been stopping vehicles leaving the Michigan Safe Transfer Center, and questioning the drivers in what can be called an illegal roadblock with illegal searches. After two days of harassing people that have entered their business, the police raided the center and confiscated the owner’s property without a warrant. Greiner, who is also part owner of the transfer center, said the business allows caregivers to provide medication to people who are officially registered with the state as patients.

     Greiner’s business partner, Bryan Mazurkiewicz, explains, “We’re not a walk-in clinic – that’s why you can’t call us a dispensary.” The owners maintain that their business has been scrupulous about following the state laws, and registered medical-marijuana caregivers can only provide their medication to the five patients whose names they have listed with the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulation. The center includes a patient consultation area, as well as four rooms where they grow marijuana “absolutely according to state law.” Mazurkiewicz says, “Everything’s locked, the paperwork is all there – stating whose plants they are – and no one has more marijuana than they’re allowed to have.” Plaintiffs against the city claim to have suffered “embarrassment, humiliation, stress, fear, nightmares, loss of income, and physical pain as a result of their inability to get needed medicine.”

Dispensary Ordinance Proposed for Detroit
DETROIT: While medical marijuana in Michigan is legal, dispensaries that facilitate those medical patients are not mentioned in the MMMA and are therefore a gray area. Many in the city’s council are working on an ordinance that would regulate dispensaries in the area. With no current regulation or licensing it is difficult to tell just how many of these stores are open in Detroit, though some guess the number is around 80. The proposal would set strict licensing requirements and would include a zoning code specifying which areas the businesses can be located in. The design would not set a cap on the number of dispensaries allowed within city limits, but all current operating dispensaries will be subject to the licensing process with no one ‘grandfathered’ in. One of the main reasons for concern over the issue of location is the over-saturation of shops in small areas of the city, near schools, churches, and parks. Many residents feel that the number of pot-shops out numbering the amount of schools is sending kids the wrong message, that it is easier to score some weed than to get an education. But the new ordinance could help everyone find a happy middle ground by allowing the dispensaries but restricting where they can be located.

Another Reason to Never Trespass in Detroit
DETROIT: A 28-year old man is in the hospital this month after police say he may have been trying to steal someone marijuana crop. The man was walking across a lot on the city’s west side when he accidentally detonated one of several booby-traps that were protecting a large caregiver grow area. The man heard many loud explosions before feeling pain in his foot caused by the blast. The man, who planted the explosives, was cooperating with authorities. The owner of the explosives told investigators that he was a caregiver growing medication for his patients and that he was in compliance with the law. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, however, says that information is not relevant to the case because of the explosives. He is expected to face federal explosives charges.

Daily Marijuana Use Surpasses Cigarettes Among College Students
ANN ARBOR: The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has been continually conducting research for the Monitoring the Future study. The study recently found that, nationally, daily marijuana use among college students is surpassing daily cigarette smoking. Nearly 5.9 percent of college students report daily or near-daily marijuana use, a rate that is up from 3.5 percent in 2007. This results mean that one in every 17 college students is smoking marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis. The study also found an increase in other areas related to marijuana use. Reporting that they have used the substance within the last 30 days rose from 17 percent in 2006 to 21 percent in 2014. A lead researcher in the study, Lloyd Johnston, believes a possible reason for the increase is the fact that fewer adolescents and young adults view marijuana as dangerous. They found that while 55 percent of 19-22 year olds saw daily marijuana use as dangerous in 2006, only about 35% saw it as dangerous by 2014. Monitoring the Future, an annual survey, has been reporting on US college students’ substance use for 35 years.

Synthetic Family
STERLING HEIGHTS: Six members of the same family were arrested and charged with delivery and manufacture of a non-narcotic drug and maintaining a drug house after police searched their gas station, tobacco stores, and other stores in the area (all owned by the same family). The businesses were searched after suspicions arose that they were selling the substance “spice” or synthetic marijuana. Synthetic marijuana, in its purest form, is made up of synthetic chemical compounds that are made up of oils or solids. This chemical compound is then sprayed onto a mixture of dried herbs and spices before being distributed. Ingestion of this substance can cause everything from heart palpitations to psychosis or even death. The most recent sentencing of one family member, 42 year old David Dabish, set his jail time at 2 months with 18 months’ probation.

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