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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Michigan News for November, 2015 - by MMM Report Staff

Warren Mayor Proposes Registration Requirements
WARREN: Some concerns from residents in Warren have prompted Mayor Jim Fouts to propose regulations which would require registration as well as dictating where medicine can be grown, how it is transported, and even controls on odor. According to the Detroit Free Press, Fouts acknowledges the bills currently going before the Senate but says his proposal would “control the whole aspect of medical marijuana growing in neighborhoods”. The mayor was already working on the ordinance when a home explosion in the city, caused by an irresponsible marijuana extraction, fueled the concerns of residents. While many see the idea as an unprecedented level of intrusion, others believe marijuana can change the face of communities and regulating it only makes sense. Comments on the proposal will be heard at a City Council meeting on November 10th.

Michael Komorn
Komorn and Act Labs Take On the  MSP’s Forensic Science Division

Ken Stecker has been using case law from Caruthers and instructing the prosecutors and technicians in Michigan to define extracts and edibles as synthetic THC, instead of marijuana or medical marijuana infused products. Charges made against patients have been elevated and protections under the medical marijuana have been stripped using this policy. In documents discovered through freedom of information act:

     Scott Penabaker, a forensic scientist at MSP’s Northville Laboratory, wrote:

     If you are to call it “THC,” at a minimum, a statement should be provided in the additional information stating that the “origin, whether naturally occurring or synthetic, could not be determined.” Also, by going out on that limb and calling it THC, you now jump from a misdemeanor to a felony charge.

     We’re bringing this up because there seemed to be some concern about uniformity in making these calls. Further, it is highly doubtful that any of these medical marijuana products we are seeing THC that was synthesized. This would be completely impractical. We are most likely seeing naturally occurring THC extracted from the plant!

     Kormorn law has secured Jeff Frazier, to argue a motion to have lab tests that have been used against patients and caregivers thrown out. This could have huge implications as to the legality of edibles and caregivers that have been in the grey area of the MMMA.

    In order to place the actual compound THC in schedule 1, the criteria of “synthetic equivalent” should be met. Since we really can’t do this, there are many of us who feel that these new evidentiary materials containing THC without any botanical morphology characteristics (candy, butter, etc.) should be identified as resinous extracts of Marihuana.

Marijuana Pumpkin Patch 
Leads to Meth Lab Arrest
Reading: When police in Reading showed up to arrest a 26 year-old man on an outstanding warrant they observed some marijuana plants growing in his pumpkin patch. This find prompted the officers to get a search warrant for the residence. While searching, the detectives discovered an illegal marijuana grow operation as well as a functioning meth lab. Two men were arrested for possession as well as manufacturing.

Two More Michigan Communities Approve Pot Proposals
Keego Harbor, Portage: The decriminalization measure in Oakland County’s Keego Harbor passed by a vote of 260-210. This new law will allow for the use, possession, and transfer of up to one ounce of cannabis on private property for people 21 years old and up. The ordinance in Portage is similar, and won by 139 votes. Voters passed the amendment in a 5,500 to 5,361 vote victory. While still illegal under state law, these laws are more symbolic, yet highly indicative of the shifting views toward marijuana in Michigan.
     With the passage of theses amendments, Portage and Keego Harbor join the more than 15 cities in the state that have decriminalized marijuana since 2010. While some are saying that not much will change due to the plant still being illegal under state and federal laws, many cannabis activists are confident that decisions like these keep the conversation alive in not only Lansing, but puts pressure on Washington D.C. as well.

Dispensary Licensing in the D
Detroit: An ordinance passed by a 6-1 vote this month approved strict licensing requirements for the medical marijuana centers in the city. The opposing vote came from President Pro Tem, George Cushingberry, who said he wanted to propose amendments to the ordinance and felt that voting on something that will affect thousands of people was a rush to judgment.

     Other members of the Council felt the change was long overdue and the residents of Detroit deserve an answer to their concerns. The proposal for licensing was introduced with a zoning ordinance, which was not voted on. The City Planning Commission will discuss the zoning ordinance later this month, and could vote on it in late fall. The licensing ordinance can’t be published until zoning has also been approved.

     The ordinance would limit hours, impose inspections and licensing requirements, as well as banning drive-thru windows. The new law will also specify where dispensaries can be located. Some residents of the city are circulating a petition urging the council to prevent marijuana businesses from opening while the news laws are pending. Many feel that the area is becoming too congested with pot shops popping up next to, and across from one another. Others feel the proposals should be delayed until more discussion and education can take place.

Regulation Bill Passes in the House
Lansing: Earlier this month, bills passed in the Michigan House of Representatives that would regulate the production and sale of medical marijuana in smokable and non-smokable forms. The House passed a similar bill last year but it stalled in the Senate. These new bills allow for the sale of edibles and oils, which are a gray area in the current medical marijuana laws. The legislation will also put a 3% excise tax as well as the states 6% sales tax on all medical marijuana sales, which will be tracked from seed to sale.

     Communities would be able to decide whether they want marijuana businesses in their area and five categories of regulated medical marijuana businesses would be created. The categories would be separately licensed and subjected to fees determined by the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department. Licenses will be granted to growers, processors, dispensaries, testing facilities, and transporters. While most advocates are in favor of the new bills, some are highly opposed to the excise tax. Rep. Jeff Irwin says other forms of medicine aren’t taxed by the state and medical marijuana should be no exception, but he believes the news bills are a fair compromise.

     Supporters of the tax said the taxes are needed to cover the cost of implementing the bill and setting up the seed to sale tracking system. It does seem important to note that if marijuana is on the 2016 ballot and becomes legalized the excise tax will go away.

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