Yeah, they're going to do it.
Lansing sources tell me the Michigan House of Representatives will take up and pass on Wednesday a trio of bills that will modify the state's seven-year old medical marijuana program to establish a big-government system of rigorously-regulated distribution centers- and a fleet of armored cars designed to haul the pot around.
HBs 4209, 4210 and 4827 offer so many changes to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act and the patients/caregivers who register with it that it's impossible to categorize them all in one spot. A few highlights:
4209 will end all the existing dispensaries in the state and require them to get a new local and state authorization to reopen. It establishes a big government program to control growth/production/sale of marijuana to registered patients through commercial facilities. Commercial distribution of medical marijuana has been prevalent in Michigan since 2010 and is a pure market that is unregulated, robust and encompasses most of the state's 175,000 registered patients.
Production of cannabis is already regulated through the state's medical marijuana program. Michigan has approved approx. 30,000 licensed caregivers, who sell their extra cannabis to the dispensaries. Under the 4209 program, that all goes away. Not the caregivers, or the extra cannabis, just the safe and legal place for them to sell it. Where will people get rid of all their extra marijuana, when the dispensaries refuse to take it?
HB 4209 would create a new 3% excise tax on medical marijuana- better than the 8% approved by the Judiciary Committee in September but still ridiculous. The language expands the AG's office, creates a new division of government under the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department, requires armored cars to carry bud from place to place as it is sold from commercial facility to producer to distributor, and adds over 110 full-time inspectors to the state payroll and health care plans.
4210 re-legalizes the medical use of non-smoked forms of cannabis. It requires labels, packages, and containers for commercial production of foods, bans the use of butane extraction methods indoors, and contains penalties for failure to comply.
BOUGHT AND SOLD: HB 4827
Language in HB 4827 authorizes purchase of a computer program from California that tracks every marijuana plant commercially grown in all 82 Michigan Counties from seed to fully mature plant, and afterward. As explained by the computer program's vendor (not the Representative who introduced the bill), their program requires extensive weighing of processed marijuana at every post-plant stage of its life.
Consider: Each and every time someone touches the cannabis under the proposed program it must be recorded in the computer's program. The same with weighing the cannabis. Weights are required to be taken and recorded FOR EACH PLANT at the time of harvest and before being given to a shipper, then again after the shipper puts the cannabis in storage, then again when it is sold to the production facility, and then the finished product AND the discarded refuse must be weighed and recorded before it can be given back to the shipper who again records the weight when transporting the cannabis to the distribution center, where it is weighed upon receipt, and upon sale.
The language of HB 4209 allows for marijuana gardens in Michigan of 1,500 plants. That's a ridiculous amount of data entry for even a single one of these facilities, and an enormous program for the state to embark upon. I thought Republicans wanted smaller government, anyway?
What started out four years ago as a way to get the legislature to stop dispensary and caregiver raids has turned into a farcical play where business and police play legislators like marionettes. Michigan has been given a grade of F for ethics in government, a ranking Rep. Klint Kesto seems determined to earn singlehandedly.
Kesto wrote a bill (HB 4827) and held a hearing on it BEFORE it was introduced to the House of Representatives and before it was assigned to his Committee. Or, more appropriately, the Seed-To-Sale Bill was written by a company from California that's trying to get the Michigan state government to buy their tracking software program to the tune of millions of dollars, and Kesto put his name on it. The inappropriate 'hearing' held on HB4827 took place before the bill was made available to the public and consisted almost entirely of a slideshow and dialog from the two company representatives.
It's easy to minimize citizen input when you don't let people know what you're talking about and don't give them any time to speak. It's just normally referred to as bad governing.
So is taking a vote before hearing any testimony. Kesto did this, too, and once again it was for his HB4827 bill with HBs 4209/4210. Same Judiciary Committee, too. He ran through amendments and voting before letting the citizens speak on the nature of the bills that the Representatives had just voted on. Ethical? Hell no. Stiflingly efficient? Hell yeah!
You can't really blame Kesto as much as we might want. Rep. Michael Callton was the first to sell out to the new money operatives in the fall of 2014 who were already planning this 2015 hijacking of HB 4209 - coincidentally, just before the bill he sponsored was mysteriously shut down by the Michigan Sheriffs Association. Or was it? Things that make you go "Hmmmm..."
We DO know it was snake-like former Senator Randy Richardville from Monroe who showed the Conservatives how to properly slither legislation through on the low-low. When he ushered the Prairie Plant Systems-bought bill called SB 660 through both houses of legislature and onto the Governor's desk in less than three months in 2013, he showed everyone how to pass a shitty marijuana bill and get away with it.
You just have to run fast enough that the stink doesn't catch up to you.
Who is The Man? Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) is, that's who. Rep. Irwin, along with the National Patients Rights Association and the lobbying firm of McKinney and Associates, has fought to tame the cash-frenzy the House sharks are circling through. The excise tax on medical marijuana is reduced from 8% to 3% in the current versions of the bills, and if Michigan gets legalized that tax goes all the way away. Misdemeanor crimes have been reduced to civil infractions in HB 4210, and there's a cap on the cash the state can demand from commercial enterprises of $10,000.
Also changed: the language on butane extractions. Instead of banning them completely, as the Judiciary version had done, the new Substitute Bill allows patients and caregivers to use the controversial process in outdoor settings where there is no danger of fume combustion.
Positive change will be hard to find once the bill enters the Land of Mordor- the Michigan Senate- where law enforcement holds sway through the powerful grip of Sen. Rick Jones, himself a former Sheriff and the strongest argument in favor of term limitations the state has produced since Randy Richardville.
Source: The Compassion Chronicles