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Monday, August 1, 2016

V.G.I.P. Update for August 2016 - by Ben Horner

     Abrogate Michigan has failed to garner the needed volunteers and signatures to make the ballot in November. MI Legalize is still attempting to sue to get on the ballot via litigation, however most people have accepted that no form of statewide legalization will be on the ballot this election cycle.  Inconsistencies regarding how medical marijuana laws in Michigan are interpreted by local police, prosecutors, and judges have managed to keep patients and caregivers from being able to safely access medical marijuana in many counties. 

     HB 4209, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Facilities Act has been stalled again in the Michigan Senate.  HB 4209 is designed to create a state regulatory model for dispensaries, and while in the hands of Senator Jones in the Judicial Committee, two other bills have been added to control seed-to-sale and distribution via secured transportation services, which would theoretically act as a completely regulated commercial cultivation system. 

     National Patients Rights Association (NPRA), MPP, Michigan Cannabis Development Association, Ann Arbor Cannabis Guild and the Lansing Cannabis Guild have actively been working to pass these bills, and have been willing to compromise patient and caregivers right to grow in exchange for the state to license their dispensaries and commercial growing. Two Groups, Evergreen Management and the Cannabis Stakeholders Group, have actively been trying to expose these corrupt officials that want to turn cannabis into a private government controlled program similar to the way the state regulates gambling, tobacco, and alcohol.

     We had a chance to attend part of an Evergreen Management meeting in Farmington Hills hosted by George Brikho, owner of Edenz Hydroponics gardening store. George Brikho is a libertarian that has been running for the US Congress and aims to run for the Michigan House of Representatives in the years ahead. Evergreen Management has a special focus on protecting caregiver and patient rights to grow. Using lobbying power from Dunaskiss and Associates, Evergreen Management has helped prevent the liquor distribution companies from lobbying for them to take over distribution rights for medical marijuana. 

     The legislative lame duck session will be coming up shortly after the election in November. Jones has vowed to make another attempt to pass the bills that nearly all patients and caregivers are against at this point. If patients, caregivers and small business owners want to prevent this from happening and wait to retry from scratch in 2017, a massive organizing effort must take place. The Cannabis Stakeholders Group will be working with groups like Evergreen Management to make this happen and continue the advocate for comprehensive legislation and local initiatives that work for all Michiganders, not just the 1%.

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