By CYNTHIA KMETT
The Coalition To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is the group that circulated the petitions last spring to put recreational marijuana on the November 6 ballot. They assert that it will raise needed money for veterans’ health and help fund municipalities, schools, and road construction.
The group collected more than the 250,000 signatures necessary to bring it to a vote.
They also point out that show FBI statistics show that more than 20,000 people are arrested for marijuana-related incidents in Michigan every year. The new measure might cut that figure in half in coming years by minimizing arrests and making black market sales less profitable, thereby saving the state’s criminal justice system millions in court and incarceration costs.
Under the proposed law, you would not be permitted to use marijuana in public, and driving while high would still net you an OWI.
Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm noted some of the changes the proposed law would bring to your city. First of all, what you’ll see on the ballot is a 100- word question. The actual law is five pages long. If the state finds flaws in the law, it takes three-quarters of the Michigan legislature to change it.
In addition, the 2016 expansion of the medical marijuana law passed in 2008 made more people eligible to get medical marijuana. Troy opted out of expanding delivery of marijuana, so residents have to go to nearby Ferndale or Hazel Park to find a dispensary.
If passed, residents would be permitted to cultivate 12 plants per household. In addition, while this new law allows you to grow and smoke marijuana almost immediately after it passes, that’s not the way licensing will work. The state won’t even start taking license applications until December 2019.
Speaking of taxes, Michigan is charging 10 percent tax on marijuana sales, the lowest in the nation, plus 6 percent regular sales tax, naturally. Colorado and California charge 37 percent, and other states have sliding taxes. Colorado makes about $247 million a year. Estimates are that the new law would bring in about $200 million a year in Michigan, with the first $40 million to be used to serve veterans. Another 15 percent would go to cities with marijuana facilities and 15 percent to counties, all depending on how many facilities they have. The schools and roads would get what’s left, after administrative costs, of course, which Bluhm says might be a costly program to oversee things like licensing and purity testing.
However, municipalities would be able to limit or ban marijuana businesses within their boundaries. Bluhm points out that a city will have to vote to keep these facilities from their towns.
It will still be illegal for anyone under 21 years of age to smoke marijuana or consume THC edibles. If you have a safety-sensitive job, your employer can still ban your use of marijuana. Landlords, however, would not be allowed to stop tenants from growing marijuana.