MI: Act Swiftly On Pot Regulation


After Michigan voters in 2008 passed an act allowing for the use of medical marijuana, the Legislature failed to address the myriad questions that followed. Among the most pressing: How would medical marijuana dispensaries be regulated?

As time passed, many communities came up with their own solutions. Others, like Lansing, have failed to implement regulations, which resulted in an influx of dispensaries within the city – more than 50 at last count.

The end result is a confusing landscape for patients and caregivers to navigate; a landscape that can shift based on local elections or new court rulings. And one that provides little oversight for a growing industry.

The bills the Michigan Senate passed this week, after they languished in committee for nearly a year, would provide clearer direction. They will create new regulations, giving communities more authority to decide if they want to have the businesses and where they will be located.

The legislation also will create a system where licenses are created for growers, dispensaries, patients, caregivers and transporters. Municipalities would have to provide written approval to businesses before they open. And the state would collect a 3 percent tax on the gross retail income of dispensaries to share with municipalities.

These provisions are good for Michiganders. The issue of medical marijuana is not going away. Clarity where confusion has reigned will benefit cities, business owners and consumers.

Lansing will be one such beneficiary. City officials are currently reviewing a sixth draft of an ordinance to regulate dispensaries and establish the parameters for location and operation. The licensing and written approval requirements of the state legislation would support Lansing’s efforts.

The latest iteration of the ordinance does not limit the number of dispensaries. Nor does the state legislation. What is the appropriate number of dispensaries for about 7,000 medical marijuana card holders in Ingham County? Should the medical marijuana industry be seen as a growth opportunity?

The Senate bills set broad parameters on medical marijuana while allowing local municipalities to make the appropriate decisions for their residents. This is how government is supposed to work. It’s unfortunate that it’s taken nearly eight years for the Legislature to get this close to addressing these issues. The House – having already OK’d much of the legislation previously – and governor should act swiftly. Michigan’s municipalities have waited too long for action on this issue.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Act Swiftly On Pot Regulation
Author: Staff
Contact: 1-517-377-1000
Photo Credit: Dave Wasinger
Website: Lansing State Journal