A monthly roundup of marijuana news and notes.
On the Dec. 6 opening day of legalization, Lansing alt-weekly newspaper City Pulse celebrated in true alternative fashion: Passing out 28 joints to passersby across the street from the Capitol. Someone at the paper reportedly bought a $223 ounce from a local dispensary and gifted it to adults on the street after checking IDs. Editor and publisher Berl Schwartz told the Lansing State Journal he cleared it with attorneys and the police chief beforehand. Extra! Extra!
Since “gifting” remains the only legal way to distribute recreational marijuana before we see retail stores in a year, at least a few businesses are getting creative. An online business in Detroit sells “munchie bags” for up to $120 filled with snacks or a T-shirt, and then gifts up to 2.5 ounces of weed, according to the Detroit Free Press. MLive reported a similar venture in Ann Arbor. It appears the state hasn’t officially responded.
As if gutting voter initiatives to raise the minimum wage and guarantee paid sick leave wasn’t enough for the GOP state Legislature during Lame Duck, outgoing Senate Majority Leader/known buzzkill Arlan Meekhof from West Michigan thought he’d get in on the action. He sponsored a bill in early December to ban home grows allowed under Prop 1.
Meekhof’s bill also would have slashed the excise tax from 10 percent to 3 percent while diverting revenue from schools and roads, as well as creating a politically appointed board to oversee recreational licenses — the same type of board that has arbitrarily been denying medical licenses to applicants. Fortunately, Meekhof’s bill was dead on arrival and didn’t even get a floor vote. Adios, Arlan. We’ll see where you land your lobbying job next year.
Speaking of medical marijuana, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ licensing board as of Dec. 7 had approved 91 total licenses for facilities: 28 for growers, 10 for processors, 45 for provisioning centers, four for secure transporters and four for safety compliance facilities.
However, Michigan Advance reports that advocates want the Whitmer administration to look into the board’s functioning following widespread complaints over its license denials. The most high-profile instance involved former Detroit Lions players Calvin Johnson and Robert Sims, whose representatives are considering recourse after a licensing board member spread falsehoods over the reasoning for the denial.
Meanwhile, the board passed a resolution on Dec. 7 saying provisioning center applicants won’t be penalized for buying product from caregivers because of the shortage of supply from licensed growers. No doubt that will make store owners already facing criminal charges for doing the exact same thing feel much better.
Looking back on the Prop 1 vote, advocates always said one of the most significant impacts of its passing would be the domino effect in other states. That already appears to be playing out. In recent weeks, the incoming governors in Illinois and Minnesota have called for legalization.
Welcome to the club.