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Monday, December 7, 2015

VGIP Update December 2015 - by Ben Horner


    This month (December 2015) we face the biggest attack on the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act attempted yet. Some say the deal is done and Senator Rick Jones is poised to make good on his promise to give into the Michigan State Police demands to remove caregivers from the dispensary process, to tightly control all cultivation and create a per se limit for driving and marijuana.  Detroit is also making it’s move to regulate dispensaries and the same people that are trying to cut a deal with Jones and the MSP are hoping to remove as much of their competition as possible. The VGIP will be participating in a meeting in Ann Arbor that should shine some additional light to these events and by the first of the year, we should know what MI Legalize will be in 2016.

     In Gaylord, Al Witt and Chad Marrow have succeeded in passing the next stage the zoning amendment to allow “Provisioning Centers”. The Planning board of Gaylord unanimously passed the amendment as written, and sent it back to city council for a vote. The Council is meeting Monday the 14th, and hopefully they will make the final vote then to approve the petition language and create a safe environment for medical marijuana centers. The petition to zone these Provisioning Centers was drafted by the Cannabis Stakeholders Group, with the aid of the VGIP.

Next up is Cadillac.

     Detroit is a microcosm of the entire state of Michigan in my opinion. Currently the city is trying to enact an ordinance to regulate dispensaries, similar to what we have here in Flint. However, unlike Flint, there is no grandfather clause that will protect the existing dispensaries outside of the zoning that has been approved by the zoning department. Some of the dispensary organizations in Detroit seek to eliminate their competition, according to statements made by leaders of National Patient Rights Association (NPRA).  The NPRA has led the lobbying for dispensary bills in Lansing and many feel they have gone too far to get what they want.

     According to Lansing insiders, the Medical Marijuana Facilities bill, and the Secured Transportation Bill have been tied together, which will create a state controlled seed to sale system. If passed, dispensaries will be legal only if they are able to get a local license and agree to acquire all medical marijuana from state controlled grow-facilities. Caregivers can apply for a commercial growers license, but they will have to adhere to industrial rules that require state monitored tracking, special licensing, taxing, testing and secured transportation. Be sure to call you lawmakers and let them know how you feel. There are over a dozen lobbyists working for various industry insiders to make the deal happen, and the have put a lot of money and compromise with law enforcement to make this happen.

     Sources have told us that Senator Jones is highly motivated to push it through before the end of the December session. In December of 2013, Senator Jones pushed through the Walsh bills, which put restrictions on outdoor growing, illegal transportation and restrictions of doctors that recommend medical marijuana. Looks like he is about to try it again. I personally am posing as a religious nut case to spread as much fear in the Republican leadership as possible. (It’s kinda fun, I feel like secret agent for freeing of the weed).



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Next year, the VGIP will be working on a new set of petitions to ban the cultivation of GMO plants. Legalization is coming, one way or another. The VGIP lead the way with the local initiatives that have brought us to the precipice of legal marijuana in Michigan. We are all rooting for MI Legalize to put it on the ballot in November of 2016. The original deadline is December 21 and the campaign is paying cash money for full sheets of signatures. If the deadline comes and they have not collected enough signatures the campaign will consider a strategy called the “Rolling Window” strategy to push back the deadline.


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According to the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, “The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, a statewide ballot initiative campaign (www.letsbanfracking.org), reached the end of a six-month signature-collecting period with over 150,000 signatures. The Committee says it is keeping all of its options open for getting on the ballot in 2016 or 2018. The minimum number of valid signatures needed is 252,523.” The ultimate deadline is June 1st, to make the 2016 ballot in Michigan






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