Ann Arbor: April 1st was a beautiful day for the 46th annual Hash Bash on the University of Michigan Diag. As supporters fired up in protest and unity, politicians and activists spoke to the crowd about legalization in 2018. Some of the speakers included former NFL player Eugene Monroe, state Reps. Yousef Rabhi and Jeff Irwin, Ann Arbor City Council Members, Adam Brook, and John Sinclair.
Each speaker voiced their version of “Free the Weed”. Cries of support filtered through the smoke-filled air from nearly 10,000 in attendance. The draft language for the 2018 legalization proposal was released by the Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol. It proposes legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older to be taxed at the wholesale level with state sales tax. The draft also gives non-violent marijuana offenders the opportunity to clean their records.
Rabhi, who took Irwin’s seat in the State House, told festival goers, “I’m here with you today because the reality is, whether you like it or not, people are using marijuana, and so the prohibition, it doesn’t work. And so, what we need to be doing is looking at ways to decriminalize and legalize, so that we can ensure that everybody is using marijuana safely. It is about safe usage.”
Another predominant message from speakers was about unity within the marijuana community. There have been political differences between groups hoping for legalization in 2018, but many want to see those disputes put aside for the good of recreational legalization.
Routine Traffic Stop
Out of Marijuana
Monroe: The City Council in Monroe unanimously agreed last month to ‘opt out of authorizing potential medical marijuana facilities,’ according to Michigan Radio. Vincent Pastue, the City Manager, stated that the main reason for the decision is insufficient regulations for the businesses. Though the proposal could be visited later, Pastue hopes the current verdict will deter hopeful entrepreneurs from trying to apply for licenses from the city. It’s likely regulations for dispensaries will not be written until this winter when the new laws go into effect. With the number of dispensaries opening throughout the state, it is very likely the Monroe City Council will need to visit this idea again.
Embracing the New Laws
Niles: The Niles Council approved a ‘resolution stating the intention to adopt the three medical marijuana laws passed last year’ in a 7-1 vote. The details of where, when, and how many will be hammered out later. Though there are some residents that are unhappy with the decision, officials claim they are acting on the voice of the majority in the community. Council member John Dicostanzo told the South Bend Tribune, “I think, most of all, this is an opportunity to take this substance, which has been a black-market substance for a long time, and bring it out into the open.” The new laws signed by Snyder late last year will allow cities to determine if they want any of the five marijuana related businesses in their area.
The approved businesses include retail dispensaries, grow facilities, processing operations, secure transport businesses, and safety compliance testing laboratories. Niles will determine the type of business as well as how many they will allow later in the year.
Centralizing Medical Marijuana Regulation
Lansing: To centralize the medical marijuana industry, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has created the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation. The new bureau will be located in the LARA Department, and will be responsible for overseeing the functions of the patient/caregiver registry as well as the new requirements for medical facility licensing. LARA’s Director, Shelly Edgerton, told mLive, “BMMR’s organizational structure puts Michigan at the forefront of state medical marijuana regulation,” LARA Director Shelly Edgerton said. “Many other states have various licenses and patient programs spread throughout different departments and agencies.” Edgerton believes ‘centralized services will enhance patient protections and make regulations more efficient for business customers.’ The BMMR will be in charge of the licensing, investigation, and enforcement of marijuana grow laws for operations allowed under the new laws signed last year by Gov. Snyder. Applications for licensing will be available through the bureau by December 15th.
New Website Fills Marketplace Void
Livonia: The marijuana industry in Michigan, and all over the US, is constantly changing and adapting. This constant movement makes people involved with marijuana nervous, especially growers. Cultivators not only fear repercussions from law enforcement but also theft if the location of their operations are compromised. These fears make it difficult for growers to find trustworthy, pot-friendly services for things such as plumbing or electric. This void allowing growers to connect with basic services was noticed by Jerry (last name withheld), who decided to create a marketing platform aimed at helping those in need.
Green Care Network, on the surface, is a “cannabis-related location based directory” which allows the public to find dispensaries, delivery services, testing facilities, and certification doctors. However, the flip side of the site is to connect businesses within the medical marijuana industry with various contractors. It allows marijuana businesses to safely find services without the fear of exposing their business. Though it was started and is based in Michigan, the site operates all over the US. Jerry hopes “to use the platform to help fight the stigma against cannabis use, so that users and growers don’t feel like they have to hide anymore.”
College Students & Marijuana Use
Ann Arbor: According to a new study from the University of Michigan, the number of “first-time marijuana use among college students” is the highest it has been in 30 years. Richard Miech, the author of the study, claims that college students are 50 percent more likely to use cannabis than peers that are not enrolled in college. The research found 51 percent of college students, aged 19 to 22, became first time users in 2015, which is a 41 percent increase from 2014. Miech believes the increase is due to college being a time “when there’s no parental supervision, there’s lots of free time, there’s often a party culture, and... these things can promote experimentation with drugs.” He also attributes the jump to changing attitudes toward the plant in society overall, telling Michigan Radio, “I think what’s happening is that people are beginning to see marijuana more like alcohol—that it’s something you can do recreationally and that there’s not much immediate harm from it.”