Michigan House Passes Medical Marijuana Reform Package

Michigan

When Michigan passed medical marijuana reform in 2008, hopes were high that the program could help the seriously ill patients of the state. Seven years later, many medical marijuana patients would argue that is not the case. Key court cases have muddied the waters of Michigan’s medical marijuana laws and as it stands now, the system seems to be in disarray.

But a recent set of reforms passed by the state House of Representatives may finally settle the issue by establishing a robust regulatory framework. In total the House passed three medical marijuana bills: HB 4210, HB 4827 and HB 4209.

The reform package would establish a seed-to-sale tracking system, allow for dispensaries, and establish rules and regulations regarding dispensary sales and marijuana cultivation. Medical marijuana sales would be taxed at three percent, which was negotiated down from eight percent.

Five different marijuana licenses would be established under the proposed system: marijuana cultivation, processing, testing, transportation and dispensary sales. The Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department would be responsible for determining fees.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the estimated cost for establishing a seed-to-sale system is $726,000. The estimated yearly cost would be $21.1 million, with most of the cost covering the employment of administrators to run the system.

Michigan has approximately 96,408 patients, which should significantly help enhance the program’s ability to become self-sustaining.

“I find the solution to be imperfect, but a good compromise,” state Rep. Jeff Irwin told the Detroit Free Press. “I hope the Legislature will ensure that this evolving market is something that we continue to get right.”

With House passing this sweeping reform, it seems lawmakers can see the writing on the wall. Like California, Michigan legislators expect full legalization to come to their state, if not in 2016 then within the next decade.

There are currently two marijuana petitions circulating in Michigan, with the possibility of a third emerging as well. Current polls indicate that 56 percent of Michigan’s voters support full legalization, so legislators have a chance to get ahead of the curve.

Now that the reform package has passed the House, it will go to the state Senate for a vote. Historically, the Senate has a habit of burying medical marijuana reform bills, but it seems like the Senate will be willing to take up the bill this time.

Speaking with Michigan Live, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Rick Jones said that the Senate should take up the issue soon.

“I’m disappointed that they lowered the tax. I think that was a mistake, and we’re going to revisit that,” Jones said. “I’m going to make sure that Michigan State Police, the sheriffs, the chiefs of police and the prosecutors are on board, so I may have to tighten it up a bit, but I do anticipate passing the bills.”

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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