In November 2017, organizers of a ballot drive to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes submitted a petition with 365,000 signatures to the state of Michigan, shattering the 252,523 required signatures in the hopes of allowing the citizens of our state to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana. The organizers ensured that this time all the signatures were gathered within the state-mandated 180-day window, a technicality that pushed it off the ballot in 2016. The group definitely seems to be upping its game in order to allow us to vote on legalizing this harmless drug.
So what does this all mean? Well, I read through the entire 2018 Proposal Language to understand exactly what this ballot includes and what it means for Michigan and its citizens.
What does this act do for us?
If approved, Michigan residents who are 21 and older would be able to legally carry up to 2.5 ounces of weed and store up to ten ounces at home. Of course, smoking in public areas would still be prohibited, however if the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act passes, Michigan can definitely start looking forward to improvements near home.
What are some interesting initiatives in this act?
Even if you were previously convicted solely for a marijuana-related offense, you are still able to obtain a license to operate a marijuana facility, as long as you were not distributing to a minor. (In this act a minor is someone under the age of 21.) This is important because in other states, if you’ve been convicted, even if it was just for weed, you’re not allowed to operate a facility even if it’s legal. I’m glad Michigan decided to include this in the bill; it’s great that we’re not restricting people who previously got in trouble for something that’s legal now.
This bill has “a plan to promote and encourage participation in the marihuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the marihuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities.” Basically what they’re saying is, we know we unfairly targeted these communities so now with this act, we’re going to change that and help them.” Of course we can’t go back in time and change the past, but at least we have a brighter future to look forward to.
How does the money generated from sales benefit Michigan?
There is an excise tax imposed on all marijuana retailers and micro businesses that is 10% of the sales price. So where does this money go? Put plainly: to schools and our terrible Michigan roads. Here’s the breakdown:
- 15% goes to municipalities where marijuana shops are located, allocated in proportion to the number of stores in the area
- 15% goes to counties where marijuana shops are located, allocated in proportion to the number of stores in the area
I’ll stop right there for a minute. The above is great, because it encourages shops to open so the local communities benefit from those shops. Contrary to some people’s opinion, bringing these shops into communities will not increase crime. In fact, if we look at statistics from other legal states, there is a decrease in arrests, and a decrease in teen use since the industry is actually regulated now in those states.
Here’s where the rest of the money goes:
- 35% to the School Aid Fund to be used for K-12 education
- 35% to the Michigan Transportation Fund to be used for the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges
We all know that Detroit schools are in deplorable conditions, and if you take a road trip anywhere in Michigan, you know the roads are more potholes than actual roads. It’s definitely a relief to see that majority of the tax revenue will go towards helping in areas that truly need it.
What are some things I find interesting about the bill?
Well for one, Section 4.4 of the act states:
“This act allows a person to prohibit or otherwise regulate the consumption, cultivation, distribution, processing, sale or display of marihuana and marihuana accessories on property the person owns, occupies, or manages, except that a lease agreement may not prohibit a tenant from lawfully possessing and consuming marihuana by means other than smoking.”
So what this is telling us is that if you rent (and let’s face it, if you’re a millennial and your parents aren’t wealthy, you’re renting), it has to state in your lease agreement that you cannot smoke weed. However, if it does say that you can’t smoke it, it appears that you can still consume the marijuana in other forms. Did somebody say weed brownies?
Another part of the bill I find interesting is that it covers a lot of ground; specifically it talks about what employers are allowed to do when it comes to their drug policy. In section 4.3 it states:
“This act does not require an employer to permit or accommodate conduct otherwise allowed by this act in any workplace or on the employer’s property. This act does not prohibit an employer from disciplining an employee for violation of a workplace drug policy or for working while under the influence of marihuana.”
I’ve heard some people complain and state that they’re worried that companies won’t be able to control their employees if they don’t want them using the drug, but the people who wrote this act thought of that. The employer is still allowed to have and enforce their own drug policies and rules. Companies and bosses can rest assured that your drug policy doesn’t have to change because of this legalization (even though in my opinion it should).
There’s so much more in this act than I can cover in one post, but put simply: this bill is going to really help Michigan’s economy.
What are your thoughts? Do you think marijuana should be legalized in Michigan? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!