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Friday, January 6, 2017

Michigan News for January 2017 - by Rachel Bunting

MILegalize Takes their Issue to Supreme Court

After unsuccessfully attempting to sue the state, in Michigan’s Claims Court, and having their case denied by the Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme court, MILegalize has filed a petition with the US Supreme Court. Originally the group went after the state for throwing out petition signatures that were outside the 180-day limit and essentially destroying the group’s ability to get marijuana legalization on the 2016 ballot. A press release from the group stated, “The case may set groundbreaking national precedent for both First Amendment rights and cannabis reform as an early test of the Trump administration and a new Supreme Court bench. [It] raises First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection violations due to the gross injustices perpetrated by the Secretary of State, Board of Canvassers, and Bureau of Elections in refusing to process MILegalize’s 354,000 signatures submitted for the 2016 election.”


New Medical Bills Taking Effect 

Lansing: The three-bill package signed by Gov. Rick Snyder last month to clarify the current and blurred medical marijuana laws, will soon take effect. The new system gives local governments the right to regulate the number and location of marijuana dispensaries in their area. It also gives them the authority to allow marijuana infused products, such as balms or lotions, while having them create a seed-to-sale tracking structure. The biggest perk to the package is the idea of legally allowing dispensaries, as they were not outlined or mentioned in the original law. Edibles and oils will also be legal under the new bills. Michigan Radio reports, ‘“This new law will help Michiganders of all ages and with varying medical conditions access safe products to relieve their suffering,” Snyder said after signing the bills. “We can finally implement a solid framework that gives patients a safe source from which to purchase and utilize medical marijuana.”’ The bill does call for the medication to come with a 3% tax on the “gross retail income” of every provision center. There is concern from some that officials will take their time granting licenses, delaying dispensaries from opening.


Anonymous Tip Leads to Large Haul

Detroit: After receiving an anonymous tip, police raided a large warehouse on Van Dyke, south of 8 mile late last month. Officers from the narcotics unit discovered more than 400 plants in various stages of growth, worth over $900,000. The large grow operation is believed to be supplying to several Detroit dispensaries. Most of the plants will be destroyed while some will be kept as evidence. No one was in the warehouse at the time of the raid but police say they have identified a suspect.


Landlords May Decide to Prohibit Medical Marijuana

Lansing: Senate Bill 72, approved by both the House and the Senate, would allow landlords to prohibit tenants from growing or smoking medical marijuana in rental properties. The landlord would need to include a statement in the lease informing the tenant that the medication is not allowed on the premises. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones, who feels the new law allows landlords to protect their property from damage. In a statement, released by mLive, Jone’s stated, “I have had two homes totally destroyed in my district that were turned into grow operations. They were basically turned into greenhouses.” When originally passed by the Senate, the bill also applied to businesses which would allow owners to ban medical patients from smoking on private property, but the House Judiciary Committee narrowed the bill to a tenant-landlord relationship. The bill is currently awaiting a signature from Governor Snyder to become law.


Medical Dispensaries Banned in Norton Shores

Norton Shores: The city council voted 6-1, last month, to approve an ordinance which will ban medical marijuana dispensaries, transporters, processors, safety compliance facilities, and growers from operating within city limits. Licensed caregivers will still be permitted to grow for state-licensed patients, but all others will face fines which will be used to cover any legal cost incurred by the city from having to shut down an illegal shop. One dispensary owner in the area warned the council that low-income patients will not be able to afford to drive to Lansing or Benton Harbor for their medication once the ordinance is passed and the current dispensaries are shut down. Mayor Gary Nelund commented on the ordinance, “Many of our business owners in the city have said, ‘I don’t want this next to my business,’ because it affects their business. We’re not opposed to the law necessarily ... you can buy it somewhere else, just not in Norton Shores.” The new ordinance will be in effect by the end of December.


Transportation Law Conflicts w/MMMA

St. Johns: Last month the Michigan Appeals Court decided patients charged with illegally transporting marijuana are protected by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. The ruling came after a man convicted of a misdemeanor for transporting his medication appealed his case. The patient was originally found guilty of improperly transporting the drug because it was not in a locked case in his trunk. The court threw out the conviction in a 2-1 judgement stating the transportation law, which came into effect four years after the Medical Marijuana Act, does not fit because ‘it puts additional requirements on compliant medical marijuana users.’


Traffic Stop Leads to Massive Haul

Sterling Heights: Officers from the Crime Suppression Unit in Sterling Heights have been looking for the source of high potency marijuana coming into Michigan from California. In the midst of their investigation they pulled over a vehicle with three passengers and nearly 200lbs of marijuana. Officers arrested the men, seized the marijuana, and obtained search warrants for various locations and a fourth suspect. Police were able to arrest the fourth man and seize another large quantity of marijuana and money from an undisclosed location. The department released a statement following the arrests, “The result of this investigation was the removal of a large quantity of illegal drugs from our neighborhood streets, the sizable seizure of U.S monies and the seizure of a vehicle as a furtherance of the crime. Because of the example of hard work set by Chief John Berg of the Sterling Heights Police Department, good old fashioned police work by the men and women of S.H.P.D was able to prevent a large quantity of illicit drugs from reaching our neighborhoods and schools.”

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