A letter was sent from Michigan NORML Executive Director Matthew Abel to the national office of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws on March 7, asking them to officially endorse the MILegalize effort to bring legal cannabis use by adults to Michigan.
"We have raised and spent over $600,000, have two professional signature gathering firms at work, and continue to raise money and support volunteer collection efforts," Abel writes. March 8 is Michigan's Primary Election day, and the MILegalize organization will have petitioners collecting signatures at polling places all across Michigan.
MILegalize held elections for Board members prior to the campaign's launch in June of 2015. Three people are members of both the Board of MINORML and MILegalize- attorney Abel, Jackson activist Steven Sharpe and this author, Rick Thompson.
In addition to his many credits, Abel is a Lifetime Member of the NORML Legal Committee and is the leader of the law firm Cannabis Counsel, PLC, in Detroit.
You can read the letter below:
March 7, 2016
To the NORML Board of Directors:
On behalf of Michigan NORML (MINORML) and the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative Committee (MILegalize), we request that NORML endorse the MILegalize ballot initiative.
The MILegalize Committee is a group of fifteen persons elected from the ranks of seasoned Michigan activists who have been active in the numerous local marijuana ballot initiatives over the last several years throughout Michigan, and which passed in all the larger cities including Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Flint, Saginaw and Kalamazoo. Our language was drafted with diverse interests in mind, and specifically to include not only legalization of adult use, but protection of the existing medical marijuana program rights of patients and caregivers, and also legalization of industrial hemp.
It allows individual cultivation of up to twelve plants per adult, and only requires a license if any product will be sold. Any city, township, village or Indian government may license any size growing, processing or sales facility. Commercial sales are subject to a tax of 10%, with proceeds divided between state transportation (40%) and state education(40%) and 20% to the locality where the establishment is located.
It will decriminalize marijuana in Michigan. Violations of this initiative are limited to civil actions, except for transferring to minors, and driving under the influence, which are misdemeanors. It ends civil forfeiture for marijuana in Michigan, which is huge here and eminently unfair.
It will stimulate the economy by fostering the establishment of numerous large and small businesses, and by encouraging the production of industrial hemp, which is defined as containing less than 1% THC, and makes hemp products non-taxable to further encourage their production as an environmentally conscious product.
After seven years of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, patients and caregivers are tired of being prosecuted for technical violations, and for being hampered in establishing any commercial enterprises which can provide safe access for patients and outlets for products produced by caregivers, who currently are restricted to providing that medicine only to one of the up to five patients to whom they are connected. This protects and expands the rights of caregivers and patients, including minor patients. Edibles and extracts are currently not legal in Michigan.
The MILegalize initiative requires child-resistant packaging, labeling including disclosure of any solvents used in manufacture, a nutrition fact panel, and 10 mg serving information.
The deadline for filing the required 253,000 signatures is June 1, 2016 in order to make the November ballot.
We have raised and spent over $600,000, have two professional signature gathering firms at work, and continue to raise money and support volunteer collection efforts.
We would greatly appreciate the endorsement of NORML.
We hope that you will agree that it is the right thing to do, and helpful to the cause.
The exact language of the initiative is on the campaign website, www.milegalize.com
Thank you for your consideration. Please let me know if we can provide any additional information.
Executive Director, Michigan NORML
Lifetime Member, NORML Legal Committee