The Michigan medical cannabis market should be further along than it is, according to the state’s Governor. Dissatisfied with the progress made in licensing medical cannabis businesses in the state, Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently signed an executive order to disassemble the board responsible for the decision making process.
“This executive order will eliminate inefficiencies that have made it difficult to meet the needs of Michigan’s medical marijuana patients,” Whitmer said.
The board, made up of volunteers, was not able to approve or deny medical marijuana business license applications within a reasonable time frame, so Gov. Whitmer took it upon herself to make a change. Gov. Whitmer’s executive order is supported by leaders in the state Legislature as well as former director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Shelly Edgerton.
“The volunteer board took on a monumental lift to get this program going, but in the short time frame the program has been running, we have not seen the expected volume of licensees entering the market,” Edgerton said. “With this executive order, the licensing process will be more efficient and allow more applicants into the space.”
The volunteer board was only able to approve 121 medical cannabis businesses since they began considering applications in July. Of the 121, only 105 businesses have paid their fees to be able to operate legally.
Only the following number of medical marijuana businesses have been fully approved to operate in Michigan:
- 31 Cultivators
- 54 Dispensaries
- 11 Processors
- 4 Testing labs
- 5 Transporters
The Marijuana Regulatory Agency
To replace the board of volunteers, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency was created. A new branch within the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency will be responsible for awarding licenses to medical cannabis businesses as of April 30. Once the regulations are established for the recreational market, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency will license recreational businesses as well.
“All elements of this Agency have been designed to serve and better protect Michigan residents, and I’m eager to have a unified effort across state departments to make sure this process runs effectively and efficiently,” said Whitmer.
Michigan voters approved a ballot measure legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes in November 2018. Recreational sales are not expected to begin until 2020 because the state needs to establish a framework for licensing and regulations first.
An 80-year-old grandmother who uses medical marijuana to treat arthritis was arrested by Michigan police earlier this summer for possessing a small amount of cannabis.
Delores Saltzman, of Clare County—a small, rural and conservative area in Central Michigan—then then spent a night in jail because her state-issued medical marijuana registration had expired.
Saltzman was not convicted of a crime. Charges were dropped last week after she renewed her medical cannabis paperwork.
However, news of her arrest is causing nationwide outrage.
Saltzman’s case is also likely to serve as a rallying point this fall, when Michigan voters will decide on a broader marijuana legalization ballot initiative—which Saltzman now heartily endorses.
Saltzman had been a medical cannabis patient for about four years when Clare County Sheriff’s Deputy Ashley Gruno visited Saltzman’s home at around 9 p.m. on June 13.
The grandmother credits cannabis with saving her life, after doctors prescribed her opioids that “caused stomach pains and vomiting,” she told a local Fox affiliate.
According to court records, Deputy Gruno was there to locate Saltzman’s great-granddaughter, who had lost her phone and ID, when she smelled marijuana while on Saltzman’s porch.
Saltzman told the deputy the marijuana was hers. She also revealed that while she was a licensed medical marijuana patient, she had let her recommendation expire.
Medical cannabis has been legal in Michigan since 2008.
It can take up to a month for patients to have a renewal application processed, according to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website.
According to researchers, based on differing areas’ arrest rates, police in Michigan (as well as everywhere else) “exercise considerable discretion regarding enforcement, not just for marijuana offenses”—meaning, police in situations like Gruno’s have a choice whether or not to enforce the law to the fullest.
Marijuana possession in Michigan is a misdemeanor, and Gruno chose to enforce the law.
The officer seized “several pipes, four joints and one purple jar” with less than an eighth of an ounce of cannabis, Saltzman said.
The deputy then searched the octogenarian’s bedroom, handcuffed her and took her off to jail for the night, where cold conditions severely aggravated her arthritis, she said.
Gruno also failed to read Saltzman her Miranda rights, Saltzman said.
According to Michelle Ambrozaitis, the Clare County prosecutor, Saltzman was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession after Deputy Gruno forwarded on the case to prosecutors for charging.
“However, our goal is to ensure that individuals who utilize medical marijuana are doing so legally,” Ambrozaitis wrote in a statement provided to Fox 17. “As such, Ms. Saltzman was encouraged to obtain her medical marijuana card and if she did so, the case would be dismissed. She did obtain her medical marijuana card and the case was dismissed.”
The charges were dismissed last week. In a statement provided to the television station, Clare County Sheriff John Wilson seemed to defend the arrest.
“What the person was doing was illegal, had she renewed her medical marijuana card she would have been fine,” he wrote in a statement. “The person was illegally in possession of marijuana.”
According to Saltzman, though her registration was renewed, she’s still waiting on her card—and, were Gruno to visit her home again, she could technically be sent back to jail.
Saltzman says she’s now sharing her story for two reasons: to encourage others to be open participants in the state’s medical marijuana program, and to encourage everyone to vote for the legalization initiative in November.
Legalization has followed busts of sick senior citizens in other jurisdictions.
Perhaps most infamously, in September 2016, Massachusetts cops used a helicopter to raid the home of an 81-year-old woman who was growing a single marijuana plant.
Less than three months later, Massachusetts voted to legalize recreational marijuana.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Michigan Cops Lock Up 80-Year Old Grandmother For Expired Medical Marijuana Card
The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the medical marijuana laws in the Wolverine State do not offer legal protection for patients who consume cannabis in their personal vehicles. Following a 2-1 vote in Lansing, a precedent has been set dictating that registered medical marijuana patients cannot smoke cannabis while parked in their own car outside of a private business.
This ruling came after Robert Carlton was arrested for smoking medical marijuana inside his car in the parking of a Mt. Pleasant Casino. Carlton and his attorney contended that his vehicle is not open to the public and therefore he should be free from legal prosecution. Judges at the circuit and district levels agreed with this argument.
Unlike the circuit and district judges, the Court of Appeals judges did not side in favor of Carlton. They decided that although Carlton was inside of his vehicle at the time, it was parked in a public place which cancelled out the immunity extended to registered medical marijuana patients under the law.
According to judges Michael J. Kelly and Christopher M. Murray:
“The lot remains a public place and the fact that a person in a vehicle occupies a place that can be characterized as private in some limited sense does not alter the fact that the person is at the same time located in a public place. And, as with the bathroom stall, whether the members of the general public are able to see the person smoking medical marijuana does not alter the public character of the place.”
Douglas Shapiro, the third Court of Appeals Judge, did not agree with the majority opinion. He said that while the state medical marijuana law makes it illegal to consume cannabis on any form of public transportation, he believes that personal vehicles could be viewed as private locations in certain circumstances. To explain why he sided with the defendent, Shapiro wrote:
“The majority looks only at whether the vehicle itself is in a place defined as public. But the statutory language leaves open the possibility that in some circumstances a private vehicle can constitute a ‘private place’ even though it is located in an area to which the public has access.”
Michigan is working on plans to organize a medical marijuana system with more regulated dispensaries, grow operations and related businesses.
On Wednesday the Michigan House of Representatives passed three bills that would regulate the production and sale of cannabis in the Wolverine State. All of the bills passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support.
Similar legislation passed the house last year but was eventually shot down in the state Senate. The new bills propose a all medical cannabis sales be subject to a 3 percent excise tax and the state’s current 6 percent sales tax. Additionally, the bill would create a production and regulatory environment for edible and other non-smokeable forms of cannabis.
The third bill details the ‘seed to sale’ tracking model, popular amongst law makers in other regulated state medical cannabis programs.
Some details of the bill include:
- Let communities decide whether they want medical marijuana-related businesses in their communities.
- Impose a 3 perent excise tax on medical marijuana businesses and the 6% sales tax on sales of medical marijuana.
- Create five categories of regulated medical marijuana businesses: growers, processors, dispensaries, testing facilities and transporters. The state Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department would establish licensing fees for each category.
- Set up a seed-to-sale tracking system to monitor marijuana production and sales.
- Legalize non-smokable forms of marijuana, such as cookies and candies.
The bills have received support from leading Michigan industry organizations.
“By passing this landmark legislation, the Michigan House today is taking a historic step toward better protecting medical marijuana patients and providing local businesses and communities with a clear, consistent framework to make sure everyone across Michigan plays by the rules,”
said Willie Rochon, Michigan Cannabis Development Association secretary.
State Representative (D) Jeff Irwin has been vocal about his support for medical cannabis and for it to not be taxed just like any other form of medicine.
“I find the solution to be imperfect, but a good compromise. I hope the Legislature will ensure that this evolving market is something that we continue to get right.”
One of leading legislators of the bills State Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, began his work on the legislation almost four years ago and thinks the current bills will make it past the Senate.
“This year, we have addressed what made it stall last year,” Callton said of previous Police opposition.
“They’ve been at the table. They realize we need something.”
State Representative (R) Lisa Lyons, sponsored the bill that would permit non-smokable forms of cannabis, and said the issue at hand at one is one of morality.
“We need to ensure safe access to medical marijuana and give people alternative forms from smoking, especially children and the elderly. There have been inconsistent judicial rules on other forms of marijuana and we’ve seen actual prosecution of people because they were using a form of medical marijuana that is healthier than smoking it.”
Lyons emphatically stated.
The bills HB 4209, 4210 and 4827 will now make their way to the Senate for vote.
Voters in Michigan may see marijuana on the ballot in 2016, as there are several groups putting together ballot proposals.
The Board of State Canvassers this week approved the wording of petitions from the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee and the Michigan Cannabis Coalition. Now, these groups will be tasked with gathering 252,523 signatures each in order to send legalization bills to the state legislature. In the event that lawmakers do not approve the measures, they would be put on the ballot in November 2016.
Under the Michigan Cannabis Coalition proposal, both marijuana and products infused with marijuana would be legal for purchase, ownership, transport and use by anyone older than 21. Further, adults older than 21 could grow up to two flowering plants at home.
The law allows the legislature to establish a tax and require facilities to be licensed. The Michigan Cannabis Control Board would be tasked with creating a number of measures to address advertising, testing, packaging and security.
The Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee issued a proposal that would allow the legal purchase, possession or use of marijuana for people older than 21. Under this measure, adults could also grow as many as 12 marijuana plants at home, though those plants could not be grown for sale.
Revenue collected from the sale of marijuana would be divided among the School Aid Fund, the state department of transportation and the local government. The MCCLRC proposal does address the issue of taxes, noting that any retail sales would come with a 10 percent excise tax on top of the state sales tax.
Both proposals uphold the current laws that prohibit marijuana use and driving, though the MCCLRC prevents the government from adopting a “per se” law.
Neither of these measures would affect medical marijuana, which is already legal in Michigan.