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Monday, December 5, 2016

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

Changing Marijuana Driving and Growing Laws

     Republican house representative Peter Lucido, from Macomb County is advancing his bill 5024 which will create a commission to create a “scientific” system for controlling driving under the influence of marijuana. Political insiders believe that a per se nano-gram limit, similar to blood alcohol content tests, will be the inevitable conclusion of this pending legislation.  

     The bill passed the house earlier this year and is currently moving through the Senate Judiciary Committee. When the bill is initiated into law the Governor will appoint 5 commissioners to work with the Michigan State Police to establish a limit for THC. The commission will be made of one physician, one forensic toxicologist, two research professors and one medical marijuana patient. 

    Senator Jones still chairs the judicial committee and has a history of spearheading bills through the infamous lame session. Like in years past, these post election December lame duck sessions are prime for Lansing to water down the existing Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. 

It came to many as a surprise that the new dispensary laws passed prior to lame duck sessions, which adds to the concern of over reaching in these new laws. Picks for the Michigan Medical Marihuana Commission are rumored to be announced before the end of the year. This commission will establish rules and regulations to licenses dispensaries, commercial grows, processing centers and the state contracted for the seed to sale tracking system and distribution delivery company. 

     As these changes are on the horizon, cities like Lansing seek an end to at-home growers who soon wont be able to transfer to dispensaries. City Mayor Virg Bernero issued a proposal to allow houses that use more then 5,000 kilowatts of power to be inspected, with warrant power, and fined.  Concerned citizens plan to mount an argument on behalf of patients and caregivers that are resisting the changes.

     In Detroit, the new licensing and zoning ordinances have seen a change to the landscape of dispensaries. Area 51, a dispensary and commercial cultivation facility was raided on September 26th. Hundreds of plants were destroyed. Owners of Area 51 claim to have received one of the first permits issued by Detroit, leading some to question the legitimacy of the new ordinances for dispensaries in the city.

     Dispensary raids were also reported in Grand Rapids, as well as Plainfield Township and Comstock, just outside of the Grand Rapids city limits. Three locations, Michigan Relief Hub, The Provisioning Center, and Natures Medicine were investigated by Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (KANET) and the Metropolitan Enforcement Team (MET). In November, they began a joint investigation into dispensaries within Kent County. Both narcotic teams received multiple “Silent Observer” tips from concerned citizens about the illegal operations. Investigators conducted several undercover operations and found all three dispensaries were selling marijuana which is in violation of The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.  This came as a surprise following the passing of the current dispensary bills, legalizing dispensaries and giving the state untillate 2017 or early 2018 to issue state licenses. 

Upcoming in Michigan, meetings for the Marijuana Policy Project to explore legalization in 2018:

Thursday, December 15 at 6:30PM – 8:30PM
Grand Rapids Community College
Wisner Bottrall-Applied Technology Center, Room 124
143 Bostwick Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503

Friday, December 16 at 6:30PM – 8:30PM
OM of Medicine
112 S Main St. Suite B, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104

Saturday, December 17 at 2PM – 4PM
University of Michigan Detroit Center
Ann Arbor Conference Room
3663 Woodward Ave., Ste. 150, Detroit, Michigan 48201

While the events won’t be ticketed, if you are on Facebook, it’d be great if you could RSVP the MPP so they can have a rough head count. Please also spread the word.

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