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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

V.G.I.P. Update for April 2017 - by Ben Horner

 Legalization Language 2018

     The Marijuana Policy Program has released the second draft. After polling and analysis, many of the most substantial reforms remain intact. Leaders of MI Legalize are split on supporting the language. Former board member of MI Legalize Chuck Ream gave us his thoughts:

Chuck Ream’s Analysis of the New Language:

1) The draft guarantees all rights currently protected by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, and does not alter that act.

2) This text is extraordinarily strong in terms of “expungement”, or the “setting aside”, of former convictions for marijuana offenses.

     If you petition the court to get your former cannabis convictions “set aside”, the court has to “set aside” your former cannabis convictions unless “you present an unreasonable risk to Public Safety” at this time. That is very strong wording.

3) Micro business. This is a great new concept that will improve the type of cannabis products that are available to consumers, and will allow more people to participate in creating products. However, “micro businesses” can sell their products to any individual “over 21 years of age or to a marijuana safety compliance facility, but not to other marijuana establishments”.

     Wait a minute, isn’t this backwards? The micro business should be able to sell to other marijuana establishments but not to just anybody over 21. That would make them a retail store. You can’t put that in neighborhoods. There would be constant parking and foot traffic. How in the world would you zone that? This needs to be thought through.

4) A felony pertaining only to marijuana does not prevent you from getting a license, your felony does not even need to be 10 years old.

5) Petition form: why choose MCL 168.482 rather than MCL 117.25?

6) Two year protection/preference for current residents?
Why?

     It looks like someone is just trying to get a business advantage, and we do live in the “United States”.
     The best cannabis service for patients/customers would come from NOT limiting investors – and most of the actual jobs would go to Michigan people.

7) OhMyGod, what!? “Secure transporters” somehow got into OUR draft!
   
     (This is our draft, not the draft of the fascists who want to get their cut of the money and don’t give a damn about more bureaucracy, increased cost to consumers - or the continuance of the black market and mass incarceration).

     The draft says that a worker at a licensed facility can only transport 15 ounces at one time, but where can they transport it to? A grower or processor could not even carry 15 ounces to another licensee!

     A grower cannot sell until the excise tax is collected by a “marijuana secured transporter”. Disgusting stuff. (This is not even what Robin has been saying ...the tax is supposed to be collected at retail.)

     There are other ways to see that “seed to sale” inventory is kept track of and taxes are properly paid!

PLEASE NOTE: A micro business does not have to use a “secure transporter”. They may “remit tax directly to the department of the treasury”. (How is this monitored – I don’t know).

SO, does this not show that the “secure transporters” are purely an absurd layer of superfluous bureaucracy? Why can’t the other licensees also “remit tax directly to the department of the treasury”? All goals can be fully accomplished with no “secured transporter”.

8) Here is the one Schuette will use to kill us:
(Section 16c).
I can see the headline now, “New pot legalization law encourages teens to grow and sell pot”.
If a teenager sets up a robust business growing and selling marijuana the most they can ever be fined is $100.

Police may not bother with someone for a fine that is less than a traffic ticket. For the kid $100 would be a tiny cost for having a fine business – they would laugh at the cop, and hand over the money with a smile - and keep their businesses flourishing.

     This is pure red meat for Schuette...you can imagine the shady looking kids in the ads that will be run. We can’t allow this to happen. We need to win.

     The fine for kids who set up pot businesses should be enough to discourage the behavior.
It must be at least $1000 for the first offense. $2000 second offense, $3000 third offense, and you take a class or something. (This is a fraction of the retainer that you otherwise might pay your attorney.)

We CANNOT allow ourselves to be defeated because we are demanding to protect marijuana growing and selling by children!

9) This law does give the state of Michigan a lot of power to set up regulations - we will have to keep a very close eye on them, and be sure that regulations are updated periodically.

I am super proud of the drafting committee and everyone who gave suggestions! This is one of the best, maybe the very best, state wide marijuana legalization initiative that has ever been written - but it does need a bit of change, and I have just put my thoughts out there without asking everyone’s permission!

MPP is still taking input. Final draft language is scheduled for some time April with hopes to begin circulation in May. Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana is the name of the new ballot committee.

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