Insider information says the total redo on Michigan's medical marijuana program could get Governor Rick Snyder's signature in less than two months.
The three highly controversial Bills containing these proposed changes- HBs 4209, 4210 and 4827- were ramrodded through the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, September 22. The legislation must be approved by the full House before it can advance. The Senate Judiciary, and the full Senate, must approve the language before it can go to the Governor and become law.
In a normal year that might be an impossible feat to accomplish within two months. But in Michigan the Republicans have control of the House, the Senate, the Governor's office and the Attorney General. Pet legislation is ushered through without the normal regard for the proper process of government.
IMPORTANT: This trio of bills will be discussed during the "PENDING LEGISLATION AND ITS IMPACT ON THE FUTURE OF CANNABUSINESSES IN MICHIGAN" Seminar held on Sept. 26 during the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Conference. Registration is required. Visit: www.micbd.com
And the Republicans want what the bills offer. An 8% excise tax on medical marijuana, and it is subject to the 6% state sales tax as well. Private licensed caregivers have provided all the marijuana for the state's approx. 200 medical marijuana dispensaries; they are eliminated from doing so. Armored cars carrying pot? Yep. The minimum size commercial garden you can have is 500 plants, and business can grow as many as 1,500. Existing dispensaries can be shut down, and the barriers to entry in the new program are very exclusive. It's a conservative win-win; business advances and potheads lose.
We have seen this fast track for favored bills in action before. In 2013, SB 660, the pot-for-pharmacies bill initiated by Canadian marijuana manufacturer Prairie Plant Systems via then-Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, was introduced, voted on in Committee, approved by the Senate, voted on by a House Committee, approved by the House, re-approved by the Senate and signed by the Governor within three months. That bill will not take effect until the federal government changes marijuana from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 2 on the drug classification scoring system used to determine the severity of a substance's prohibition.
GOVERNMENT GONE BAD
Advocates charge that Tuesday's lubed-up legislative process is why people hate government. "This action by the House is an example of government at its worst," said Jamie Lowell, co-founder of Ypsilanti's 3rd Coast. That facility was the first dispensary licensed in the United States east of the Mississippi River. They've met city code and passed inspections for five years.
That sparkling record of achievement may be irrelevant under the new legal framework established by Kesto and bill sponsor Michael Callton, R-Nashville (pictured at right).
But it's tough to know what is going to happen. HB 4209 H-4, the 55-page substitute bill containing the most radical change, had NEVER been featured on the state website or given to the public before Tuesday's hearing. The Reps themselves were voting on a proposal they had not had time to read, let alone fully understand. Lawyers are reading over the language. Most of them are furious.
Attendees at the Judiciary Committee were furious with the process used to pass the bills. Within 15 minutes after the start of the hearing, Chairman Klint Kesto (R-Commerce Township) had the Committee vote to add the massive substitute bill, dispensed with three pro-patient amendments, took individual approval votes on all three bills- and THEN started taking testimony from the citizens in attendance.
The three pro-patient amendments offered by Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) included a provision to strike the tax on medical marijuana (it will be 8% plus a 6% sales tax) and eliminate the secure transport portion of the bill (requiring a third-party entity to purchase and own the cannabis from growers then resell it to dispensaries). Swept aside by the Republican majority on the Committee.
Vote first, then find out how the people feel about the Bill. Backwards government. "Legislation by gotchya," as Detroit attorney Matthew Abel described it. As the last speaker before the Committee, I let them know what they had done was wrong. It won't matter.
"The fix is in," one insider told me. "Can't stop this now," another said.
What clarity in the legislation there is to be had can be found in Flint on Saturday. The Michigan Cannabis Business Development Conference is scheduled for this Saturday, September 26. Speaking during the Conference are more than a half-dozen of the state's top attorneys specializing in cannabis law; Robin Schneider, Legislative Chairperson for the National Patients Rights Association; and George Brikho, owner of the Edenz Hydro chain of stores and the principal in the Evergreen Management group.
Bethany Moore of the National Cannabis Industry Association will be speaking as well. She can answer questions about what other states have adopted, whether this proposal is radically different than what other states experience, and how networking together makes the industry strong in times like these.
There is not a better group of individuals to explain the details of the bills, and how they could change your life, anywhere in the state this weekend. The Conference features 9 different Seminars and the cost to attend is $150. Registration is required. Visit www.micbd.com to register.
Michigan's next big marijuana conference is a few short days away! Join Rick Thompson for the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Conference on September 26 at the Holiday Inn Gateway Centre. Marijuana Case Law Update, Legislative Review, so many other topics! 9 Seminars in all.
Source: The Compassion Chronicles