The first set of regulations for Detroit’s already booming medical marijuana distribution industry were approved 6-1 by the city council. Dispensaries which already operate within the city will be forced to apply for a license or be shut down.
The new rules state that shops may only legally operate with an approved, city-issued license after they pass a background check, and against the wishes of some proprietors, drive-through service is now prohibited. Twenty-four hour service is also prohibited under the new ordinance, and a set inspection process is being developed. Until now, there was no tracking or operation control by the city, which led to reports of concern from Detroit residents.
Detroit Councilman James Tate commented on the city’s responsibility to respond to concerns about the growing number of unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries. Tate also states that licensing and rule adjustment will satisfy those concerned with dispensary control, and it will help patients to receive medication in a more regulated environment.
“Right now, there’s no ordinance to allow for these places to exist. That compassion is there … because it allows these facilities to exist,”
The council-approved regulations, which were proposed by Tate, also dictate new zoning guidelines. It specifies the distance in which medical marijuana shops can operate from organizations such as churches, schools, public parks and other dispensaries. Many Detroit residents are welcoming the new ordinances with open arms, hoping the new rules will shed light on the benefits of medical marijuana for patients of the city in need.
Although medical marijuana is now legal in the state of Michigan, voters remain narrowly divided as to whether they would like to see recreational pot. A recent poll conducted by a Lansing-based research firm showed that 50% of likely Michigan voters would support the full legalization of marijuana for adults 21 and up. The trend is on the upward swing for Michigan voters, as a similar poll just a year ago showed support at 47 percent.
The survey was commissioned by the Michigan Chapter of NORML and was conducted gathered a sample set of 600 likely Michigan voters. Although 50% may sound like the issue is still on the fence, only 46% of respondents opposed the legalization of marijuana, with 4% left undecided.
Matthew Abel, Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of NORMl, says “Once people understand the effect that it’s had and analyze the statistics, they generally agree it’s a net win for society. Everybody knows you can get marijuana anywhere, so it’s time that we remove the taint of prohibition and the ill effects.”
Medical marijuana was legalized in Michigan back in 2008 and since then many communities and municipalities have decriminalized simple possession charges. As we head towards 2016 it has yet to be determined wether Michigan will vote on a ballot initiative. Metro areas and young voters overwhelmingly support marijuana legalization with the 18 to 34 year old demographic at 69% approval. The road to full legalization is still a long one for Michigan, which will rely heavily on these supporters.
Nearly a month after pleading guilty to drug charges over possession of medical marijuana butter, a Michigan police officer’s abrupt death has officially been ruled a suicide. A 22 year police officer veteran, Sergeant Timothy Bernhardt’s life dramatically changed when a call from US postal worked tipped officers off to suspicious packages. A closer look at the destination of the packages eventually lead investigating officers to search the homes of Sergeant Tim Bernhardt, Deputy Michael Frederick, and Deputy Todd VanDoorne, and Christine Tennant, the wife of Deputy Brian Tennant.
Unknowingly breaking the law, all believed at the time that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act protected their possession and use of medical marijuana butter, according to the Huffington Post.
Sergeant Bernhardt quit his post and plead guilty to his charges, though the Kent County Sheriff, Larry Stelma, told the press that there was never any indication that the marijuana was ever provided to anyone without a medical marijuana card.
Bernhardt was facing two years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine, regardless of the sergeant previous squeeky clean record and years of service.
The officers’ lawyers articulated that the only drug activity involved in the case involved medical marijuana, and the officers had legally obtained medical marijuana cards.
The issue at the center of the arrests is a technicality in the law: Marijuana infused butter is not officially deemed as “usable” marijuana under the 2008 law.
After lengthy debate, a Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that marijuana butter was not considered medical marijuana, in July of last year. In response to that ruling, in December of last year, the Michigan House voted 100-9 to include products made with resin, including marijuana butter, in the definition of legal, usable medical marijuana. That bill was still in the Michigan Senate at the time of the arrests.
Photo Credit: RawStory
Marijuana advocates in Michigan are working to improve local marijuana laws while taking slow and steady strides towards legalization. In the last two years, voters from seven different cities within the state have approved measures decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults. This year, there were initiatives pushed in eighteen more cities. Two cities already approved the measure in August, and a spot has been secured on the ballot in November for eleven more cities.
Michigan has never seen an election day with this many marijuana propositions on the ballots. According to WKAR Michigan Public Radio Network, members of the pro-marijuana team, Safer Michigan Coalition, have been working diligently to improve local marijuana laws with only a minimal budget for marketing and promotion. Charles Ream, Executive Direct of Safer Michigan Coalition, told WKAR that he is confident that all initiatives will be passed by voters despite the lack of campaign funds.
Ream explained that, although it would be ideal, he does not anticipate being able to push for an amendment legalizing the retail sale of marijuana to be on the ballot, state-wide, in 2016 because the coalition does not have the campaign funding to do so. However, if the team is able to obtain funding soon, he will gladly lead the initiative.
The ballot measures will legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults aged twenty-one years or older. This only applies to possession when on private property, and it will only be valid within approved city limits. Marijuana will remain illegal on a state and federal level. This measure will be on ballots in all of the following Michigan municipalities:
- Port Huron
- Mt. Pleasant
- Frankfort/Benzie County
- Huntington Woods
- Pleasant Ridge
This list of cities covers all types of ground. Some areas are urban, others rural and the list includes middle class suburbs. This diversity demonstrates that marijuana use is not concentrated to one specific group, it seems to be dispersed equally among all types of people and living situations.
photo credit: sean_emmett