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Michigan Becomes The Next State To Legalize Marijuana

 November 26th, 2108 photo/istock/smontgom65

By Roger Malespin

The midterm elections of 2018 are over and it was a big night for the cannabis community. Marijuana initiatives were on the ballot in many states, and several pro-legalization lawmakers were elected to office. One of the big victories for legalization is in Michigan, where voters approved the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. The measure was placed on the ballot back in April, when it exceeded the 350,000 votes needed to be considered.
The law will be implemented in December, and allows adults 21 and over to possess up to 2 ½ ounces of cannabis and to grow up to 12 plants at home.

The specifics of how legalization is implemented varies across each state, so let’s break down some key aspects of the new law:

 Although many states that allow personal plant cultivation restrict them to personal use only, Michigan is doing something different. Part of the law states that those who wish to apply can get licensed for what is being called a “microbusiness”. These microbusinesses allow individuals to obtain a separate type of business license that allows an additional 150 plants to be grown for personal sales. This means regular, everyday people can be their own legal marijuana business if they have the ability to grow and maintain the product.

All retail sales are subject to a 10% tax on top of the state 6%. 16% tax does seem hefty, but according to Forbes, “revenues will cover the cost of regulation, with the remainder earmarked to fund schools, roads, local governments and FDA-approved research on the medical benefits of cannabis for military veterans struggling with PTSD and other conditions.” This is a desperately needed source of revenue for the state, which has struggled economically for decades and is only getting worse. People in Flint still do not have clean drinking water.

 Like all other states with legalization, municipalities will have the power to decide if marijuana businesses can operate within their boundaries. Think of them as dry counties for marijuana instead of alcohol. Annoying maybe, but necessary to keep the law. The people this could affect the most are those within said counties who want to start a microbusiness.

 One of the biggest provisions of the law is that it allows the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, a state agency, to grant or refuse licenses. This is a politically appointed post that is essentially an extension of the governor’s agenda. Luckily, Gretchen Whitmer was elected governor on Tuesday, beating out incumbent republican Bill Schuette. For the next 4 years at least, we can expect little if any obstructions to sensible licensing policy.

 Those are just a few of the details in the law. This is certainly a massive win for the state of Michigan and the cannabis community overall. Citizens of Michigan now the the freedom they are owed, they can open up a private business without necessarily having to invest in property beyond their own, and the days of historically racially biased low level marijuana arrests are over. Minority communities and other lower income citizens now have the chance to make themselves entrepreneurs with the very product that was previously used against them. All in all, a great win for legalization and citizen’s rights, and Michigan was far from the only place to see the end of marijuana prohibition.