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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Michigan News - May 2018 - by Kathy Hess

Ann Arbor; Temporary Moratorium on New Dispensaries

ANN ARBOR -  Is temporarily hitting the pause button on new medical marijuana dispensaries after more than 30 recently applied for approval to operate in the city.

The City Council voted 11-0 on April 16, to impose a 60-day moratorium on issuance of new permits, with the exception of dispensaries whose applications for zoning approval already have been accepted and are under consideration.

Though Ann Arbor decriminalized cannabis in the 1970s, is home to the long-running Hash Bash celebration and is considered by some the cannabis capital of the Midwest, city officials say the large number of dispensaries looking to set up shop here warrants taking some time to step back and consider adjustments to the city's regulations.

The city's new regulations for marijuana businesses took effect Feb. 12 and the city has seen more than 30 dispensary applications, some from existing dispensaries seeking to become official under the new laws and some new ones looking to set up shop.

The city's Planning Commission is tasked with considering them on a case-by-case basis as special-exception uses, meaning they require special zoning approval.

Republicans Considering Getting in Front of Cannabis Legalization

LANSING- Sensing that legalizing cannabis in Michigan might be inevitable, some Republicans want to get in front of the issue to try to avoid political devastation in November.

A petition campaign to legalize marijuana in Michigan has cleared a bunch of hurdles, including turning in enough signatures to get on the ballot in November.

Four years ago an EPIC-MRA poll showed that half the state’s voters favored full legalization. According to a poll last month, that number is now up to 61 percent in favor.

Now, presuming the petition signatures are certified, this question doesn’t actually have to go to the ballot. The Legislature has the option to preempt that step by adopting the initiative and allowing it to become law.

Republicans, some who are even opposed to legalizing marijuana, are starting to reconsider their position. Their concern is if the legalization question is on the ballot in November, it could increase turnout, especially among young progressives and single-issue pro-marijuana voters. And, in an election year that fears the Blue Wave, the GOP doesn’t want anything to increase progressive voter turnout.

We’ve seen the GOP in Michigan use this tactic before. Four years ago, it appeared as though a ballot initiative (run by a progressive group) to increase the state’s minimum wage would be popular at the polls. That was also an election year. Republicans approved an increase to the state’s minimum wage (a whole $1.10, of incremental increases) and kept the question off the ballot.

Now, the Legislature’s GOP leaders say they haven’t really talked about this issue of marijuana legalization yet. The question is still not certified and there are many crosscurrents to address.
Republicans still have some time. The state Bureau of Elections is still checking signatures to see if the pro-marijuana campaign has gathered enough valid signatures. However, the deadline has passed for the opposition to file challenges. That suggests a clear path for the legalization drive.

If the signatures are certified, the question goes to the ballot unless the Legislature acts first. A political calculation will be part of the deliberations of GOP leaders.

Fight this out on the ballot? Or let it become law and levy the Blue Wave/progressive single issue voters so the point spread in November doesn’t cost Republicans in competitive races?

Dana Nessel for Attorney General.

DETROIT — “Guess who is going to be filing suit against the Trump administration on behalf of the state of Michigan?”  Dana Nessel told the crowd at Cobo Center on April 15th. “This lesbian right here.”  In the Black Caucus, she touted her record of protecting minority communities and pledged to fight wrongful convictions and arrests. In the Disability Caucus meeting, she promised there would be an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator in the Attorney General’s office. In the Cannibus Caucus she promised to fight AG Sessions and the DOJ for Michigan’s marijuana rights. In the Environmental Caucus, she said she’d take on Nestl√©, shut down Line 5 and stand up to President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Scott Pruitt.

“I’ll be suing you all day, every day,” Nessel said.

The room erupted in cheers. Her wife, Alanna Maguire, and twin sons stood to her left, beaming. More than 10 hours later, Nessel, the first openly gay person to run for statewide office in Michigan, claimed victory over Pat Miles.

It was a day for the party’s ascendant progressive wing in what may be a year for progressive candidates. Miles had the establishment, but it was Nessel supporters whose voices thundered across the convention hall on Sunday. She enjoyed the backing of LGBTQ activists and cannabis proponents interest groups that were hardly considered part of any blueprint for party victory ten years ago.

Roughly 6,700 registered Democrats turned out at Cobo Center to endorse candidates for Michigan Attorney General, Secretary of State and Supreme Court, according to the count of party chairman Brandon Dillon. But only one race was contested: for Attorney General. Over an exhausting day of meetings, speeches and ballots, with ice storms raging outside, there were 30-plus caucus groups and congressional districts for the AG candidates to woo.

Nessel, 48, best known as the attorney who won the landmark case, DeBoer v. Snyder, which ultimately would overturn Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Both candidates were positive. Neither Miles nor Nessel mentioned the other as they made their final campaign pitches in meetings before African Americans, unions, progressive activists, cannabis activists, environmental advocates, women and other interest groups.

Cobo’s cavernous ballroom was packed with tables representing candidates and organizing groups. At the Dana Nessel outpost, Stephanie Augustyniak handed out stickers and signs to passerby.“She speaks for me,” Augustyniak said of Nessel, who she admires for her record fighting for same-sex marriage in Michigan. “It’s important to me that she stood up before it was popular.”

Another supporter hailed Nessel’s progressive credentials and support for environmental justice and marijuana  rights. “To be honest, I haven’t been this inspired by a candidate since Bernie Sanders,” Katy Robinson said. “It’s not just an inspiring message, it’s an inspiring person.”

 “I’ve heard some people say we can’t have too many women on the ticket,” she told the party’s Women’s Caucus, a reference to the possibility that the party’s Secretary of State and governor nominees would also be women.

“You know what I say to that?” Nessel asked. “Screw that noise.”

Clad in a bright blue blazer, Nessel bobbed through the sea of delegates as they filed in for the endorsement convention. Chants of “Dana! Dana!” rose in waves as she passed by, shaking hands.
“I’m so tired,” Nessel confided just before the endorsement portion of the convention began. “This is a crazy day. The craziest day in the history of all my days.”

But like another progressive provocateur, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Nessel noted one thing that had resonated with Sunday’s audiences: “The shouting,” she joked.

In the early evening, after more than an hour of voting and tabulating, Miles came to the stage and offered his concession speech.

“We just wished each other good luck,” Nessel told reporters of her conversation with Miles before the results. “We fought a hard and good race, and hopefully the party will come together at this point and support all of our nominees.”

It was around 7 p.m. when Nessel took the stage after the vote.

She knocked the miserable weather, thanked her supporters and pledged to work tirelessly to turn Michigan blue again.

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