Michigan Court Puts The Lid On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

MICHIGAN:  It looks like the state Court of Appeals has pounded another nail into the coffin of marijuana dispensaries in Michigan.

A pair of West Michigan men who faced little to no jail time after they reached plea deals for distributing medical marijuana appealed their cases, which took a circuitous route through court system.

The result is the new decision severely limiting how marijuana can be obtained under the voter-approved Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

“It’s confusing, even just speaking it, you go, ‘Well, wait a minute, this doesn’t make any sense,” said Matt Hoffmann, a self-described expert in the medical marijuana industry.

MILegalize Extends Deadline For Petition Signatures

MICHIGAN: A Lansing-based group collecting signatures to get a marijuana-legalization question on statewide ballots next year says it’s extending its petition campaign past a previous deadline of Dec. 21 that its leaders had set.

“For a variety of reasons, MILegalize is extending its campaign,”  Lansing attorney Jeffrey Hank, chair of the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee, said this weekend.

“We’re really strong financially,” Hank said.  “We’ve received or have pledged to us more than $500,000.”

Medical Marijuana May Go The Way Of Alcohol In Michigan Senate

MICHIGAN: Michigan would create a tiered system for medical marijuana growers, distributors and retailers under evolving legislation up for a likely vote Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said Monday medical pot bills approved by the House earlier this year will be amended in his committee to prevent an owner from being licensed to operate multiple types of medical marijuana businesses.

The state regulates alcohol in a similar, three-tiered fashion.

Detroit Council May Crack Down On Booming Pot Industry

MICHIGAN: The Detroit City Council is expected take up a second ordinance to regulate the city’s booming medical marijuana industry on Tuesday, although final approval of the measure may not come until January.

The council’s planning and economic development committee on Thursday approved the latest version of ordinances designating where dispensaries can locate. Without those regulations, more than 150 unlicensed and unregulated dispensaries have opened up across the city, raising deep concerns among some residents.

The restrictions would require that dispensaries not be located within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, caregiver centers and places such as liquor stores.

Michigan Prosecutors Pressured Lab On Medical Marijuana Results

MICHIGAN: The Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division finds itself embroiled in scandal as newly released emails paint a picture of a crime lab in turmoil over how to classify marijuana. Attorneys and medical marijuana advocates accuse Michigan prosecutors of pressuring the state’s crime lab to falsely classify the origins of THC found in hash oils and marijuana edibles as “origin unknown.”

Prosecutors exploited the ambiguity to charge medical marijuana users for possession of synthetic THC, despite the fact that the personal use of medical marijuana has been legal in Michigan since it was approved by voters in 2008. Under Michigan law, possession of synthetic THC constitutes a felony, whereas possession of marijuana and its derivatives by someone who is not a licensed medical marijuana user is a misdemeanor.

The emails were obtained by Michael Komorn, lead lawyer for Max Lorincz, a medical marijuana patient who lost custody of his child and now faces felony charges after the lab’s misleading classification of hash oil found in his home.

“I’d never seen a lab report reporting origin unknown,” Komorn told The Intercept. “What was produced for us was the most unbelievable set of documents I’ve ever seen.”

Michigan Marijuana Legalization Advocates See Promise, Peril In Ohio Pot Proposal

MICHIGAN: Michigan groups hoping to legalize marijuana in 2016 are turning their attention to Ohio today, as voters in the Buckeye State decide the fate of a unique pot proposal.

The Responsible Ohio measure would legalize recreational and medical use of the drug but restrict commercial growing to 10 sites controlled by wealthy investors, who would essentially be granted a monopoly or “oligopoly” on the agricultural side of the marijuana industry.

“You want to see legalization, but you don’t want to see it done that way,” said Jeffrey Hank, chairman of the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Reform Committee, commonly known as MI Legalize, one of two groups running a petition drive here.

Rules For Marijuana Shops Debated At Detroit Hearing

MICHIGAN: Concerned Detroiters who cringe at the rapid spread of marijuana dispensaries and medical marijuana card-holders who say they rely on the product for treatment packed a public hearing Monday to debate proposed regulations of the city’s medical marijuana industry.

The Detroit City Council is considering a proposal that includes a way to license the city’s approximately 150 medical marijuana shops. The proposal also has zoning restrictions on how close they can operate near schools, churches and other dispensaries.

Eunice Gantt, a lifelong Detroiter, said the growing number of marijuana dispensaries hurts the city’s reputation.  “I’m concerned about the fact there’s so many dispensaries here when you look at other cities,” Gantt said. “We are becoming a laughing joke.”

Medicinal Marijuana Bills Pass Michigan State House

MICHIGAN: This past week, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a series of bills regarding Michigan’s medical marijuana laws.

Among these bills include a 3 percent excise tax on medicinal marijuana. The funds collected from the tax will go toward establishing a more regulated and controlled environment that will help insure safety and consistency. When the bill was initially proposed, the tax was at 16 percent and was negotiated down to 3 percent.

State Representative John Kivela, Democrat in the 109th district, believes these new bills help better define the medical marijuana laws in Michigan.

“In my opinion, there’s an old adage that it’s never wrong to make a bad bill better and this was a very complicated, confusing law to begin with and I think these changes really clean it up,” said Kivela.

Proposed Tax Changed As Michigan House Preps Vote On Major Medical Marijuana package

MICHIGAN: Medical marijuana dispensaries would be taxed at 3 percent, and customer patients would also pay the state’s six-percent sales tax, under legislation set for a vote Wednesday in the Michigan House.

The proposed dispensary tax was lowered from 8 percent in a substitute bill adopted by the House on Tuesday, and the medical tax would be eliminated if recreational marijuana use and taxable sales are later authorized in the state.

The three-bill package would make major changes to the state’s medical marijuana program, approved by voters in 2008. While it would not end the patient-caregiver system that allows for home growing, it would create a separate regulatory framework for medical marijuana businesses.

More College Students Regularly Smoke Marijuana Than Tobacco, Survey Finds

MICHIGAN:  More U.S. college students are making a habit of using marijuana, which has supplanted tobacco cigarettes as the smoke-able substance of choice among undergraduates who light up regularly, a study released Tuesday found.

Just under 6 percent of the full-time students surveyed by University of Michigan researchers for the annual “Monitoring the Future” study reported using pot either every day or at least 20 times in the previous 30 days.

By contrast, 5 percent of respondents identified themselves as heavy cigarette smokers, a steep decline from the 19 percent who said they smoked daily in 1999.

The findings suggest that teenagers and young adults have absorbed public health warnings about the dangers of cigarettes but increasingly regard marijuana as benign or carrying few risks, lead investigator Lloyd Johnston said.