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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Michigan News for October 2017 - by Dolan Frick

Dispensary News

     There’s a lot going on and a lot to comprehend as Michigan moves to bring order to its medical marijuana industry. Next year, Michigan will begin issuing five types of licenses for businesses associated with medical marijuana, from dispensaries to transporters. State officials warned existing dispensaries to close by Dec. 15 if they want a good shot at a license. Local communities can opt in or out of the new medical marijuana program. Cities that opt in and allow dispensaries get 25 percent of revenue from the 3 percent tax on gross receipts at dispensaries located in the municipality. Dispensaries and the other four types of licensed facilities can only operate in communities
that opt in.

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The Unknown
     Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. The Obama administration didn’t challenge state laws legalizing it in places such as Colorado and Washington state. Things are certainly changing. The Trump administration isn’t as accommodating. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has asked the Senate to repeal rules so the Justice Department can enforce federal laws against medical marijuana. Changes are coming for the industry.

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Petition for Good     Petitions are being circulated statewide for a referendum to legalize recreational marijuana use in Michigan. If voters pass it, that would mean any adult could buy marijuana, without needing a doctor to certify they need it medicinally. The proposal would impose a 16 percent tax on marijuana, with the revenue going to local communities, schools, and roads.

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Pro Medical Marijuana     Bay City is among the latest Michigan areas to show interest in welcoming the medical marijuana industry.

The Bay City Commission voted recently to approve a resolution to opt into the state’s medical marijuana facilities licensing act. This act allows the city to start crafting ordinances and zoning requirements about where manufacturers and dispensaries might be able to operate. The Bay City Times reports neighboring Bangor and Pinconning townships spent months to write and approve ordinances. Both of the townships have already started accepting applications for commercial growers, transporters and others.

     The vote comes as the state of Michigan is moving ahead on a new regulatory system aimed at increasing oversight and imposing new taxes on the medical marijuana industry. Michigan voters approved marijuana use in 2008 for some chronic medical conditions.

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Patent on Marijuana     Michigan continues to be undecided on how to regulate and license medical marijuana dispensaries.

But there’s potentially a bigger issue facing the budding cannabis industry. There is someone that is trying to build a national monopoly on legal weed.

     As reporter, Amanda Chicago Lewis, writes in her story for GQ, there are some powerful people trying to turn their company into the “Monsanto of marijuana.”

“Biotech Institute is a company that has really no assets other than these very broad patents on the cannabis plant,” said Lewis.

    One marijuana geneticist estimated that the company’s patents cover “one-half to two-thirds of the strains currently on the market.”

     The impact of those patents could be substantial. If one company receives a wide-ranging utility patent before its competitors, it could hold major control over the entire industry. That could result in higher prices and lower genetic diversity.

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Over 200,000 Signatures for Marijuana LegalizationVoters in Michigan could see marijuana legislation on the ballot in 2018. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol says it’s close to having enough petition signatures to get on the ballot in November 2018. They say they have passed 200,000 signatures of the 252,523 needed. In Lansing, MIRSNews.com reports attorney Jeff Hank says they’re still shooting to have 350,000 signatures by early October. The group has until November 26, 2017 to collect enough signatures from registered voters to be on next fall’s ballot.

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Butane ExplosionA house explosion in Redford Township that injured three people was most likely caused by processing marijuana, police said. Redford Township Police Capt. James Turner said the explosion happened at about 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday, August 30th at a home near 8 Mile Road and Grand River Avenue. He said three people were in the home at the time and all three were taken to the hospital for severe injuries. Turner said police are not releasing the identities of the three people because they are still trying to notify their family members. He also said police continue to work to determine the cause of the explosion, but a preliminary investigation has revealed butane was being used to process marijuana in the house. Butane is used to extract concentrations of THC, from marijuana plants. The chemical produces the euphoric feeling users get from consuming marijuana.

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