marijuana

A button promoting marijuana legalization.
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Everything you ever wanted to know about marijuana in Michigan was discussed this week on Stateside.

From the politics - to the business - to the potential downsides.

We sat down with reporters, business owners, and law enforcement to learn more about the topic.

Here's a quick rundown of what we covered:

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We’ve reviewed the movements pushing for marijuana legalization in Michigan, we’ve taken a look at how legal pot has treated Colorado, and we’ve heard the viewpoint of a medical marijuana caregiver in Ann Arbor.

Today, we get the law enforcement perspective.

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More than 50% of Michigan voters say in recent polls that they support marijuana legalization.

Two groups hope to put legalization proposals on the November 2016 ballot.

flickr user Eljoja / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

When it comes to the issue of marijuana – to legalize or not to legalize – Michigan seems to be about where Colorado was not too long ago.

Colorado had over a decade to experiment with medical marijuana before legalizing its recreational use in November 2012, which Colorado Public Radio’s Ben Markus tells us gave the state ample opportunity to figure out how marijuana can fit into the political and business landscape.

“Medical marijuana was huge. The state then decided, hey, we need to regulate this thing,” he says.

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Getting high in Michigan has certainly changed over the past few years.

Voters legalized marijuana for medical purposes in Michigan in 2008. Soon, it could be legal just for fun.

A number of groups seeking to legalize cannabis in Michigan are working to put ballot proposals on the 2016 ballot.

Potholes are a familiar obstacle on Michigan roads.
Flickr user Michael Gil / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio’s senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Christina Shockley discuss another road funding plan, proposed changes for medical marijuana cardholders, and body cameras.


Marijuana plant.
USFWS

State lawmakers are considering taxing and tracking medical marijuana in Michigan.

Bill sponsors are expected to tack those and other changes onto bills that would create new protections for dispensaries and patients who use non-smokable forms of cannabis.

A state House panel on Tuesday also took up a new bill that would track cannabis from seed to sale.

Michigan voters may see marijuana on the ballot in 2016
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Two Michigan groups hoping to legalize marijuana in Michigan can begin collecting signatures to put the question on the 2016 ballot after a state elections board signed off on the groups' petition language.

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A couple of groups hoping to legalize marijuana in 2016 have a green light to move forward.

A state elections board signed off on each group’s petition language Thursday. They can now begin collecting signatures.

Legally grown marijuana in Colorado.
Brett Levin / creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

As state lawmakers search for ways to come up with the money needed to fix Michigan’s battered and bumpy roads, one state representative tossed out this idea: Legalize and tax marijuana, and then put that new revenue to work.

State Rep. Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids, joins us today to talk about this idea.

Marijuana plant.
USFWS

Tuesday is a critical day for two groups – one which hopes to legalize and tax recreational marijuana in Michigan, and another which seeks to ban prevailing wage requirements in the state.

The Board of State Canvassers will review petition language submitted by the Michigan Cannabis Coalition. It’s one of at least three groups working to put a marijuana legalization question on the November 2016 ballot.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A prominent Democratic politician will be a featured speaker at a marijuana legalization rally in Ann Arbor tomorrow.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is quick to point out he’s never smoked pot. But the former Democratic candidate for governor says he now supports legalizing it.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan voters may decide in 2016 if they want to legalize marijuana.

Organizers hope to start a petition drive this summer to put the issue on the ballot.

Rick Thompson is with the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative Committee.

He says the path has been laid by decriminalization votes in nearly two dozen Michigan cities.

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When it comes to schools, pot and guns in Michigan, who's the boss? This week, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss an executive order that puts control of the state's worst performing schools in the governor's hands, whether legalizing recreational marijuana would be good for Michigan, and a skirmish in Ann Arbor over openly carrying weapons in schools.

 

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A group of activists says 2016 is the year to legalize marijuana in Michigan.

The group says it will launch a petition drive this year. It’s still finalizing the proposal’s language – but organizers say it will allow people to grow up to 12 marijuana plants each.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Confusion surrounding the legality of marijuana dispensaries and non-smokable forms of the drug are prompting lawmakers to propose changes to Michigan's 5-year-old law that legalized marijuana for medical use.

Bipartisan legislation would allow for "provisioning centers" where patients with a state-issued medical marijuana card could obtain marijuana.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state Senate may vote in the next day or so on major changes to Michigan’s medical marijuana law.

The bills would create a framework for licensing dispensaries and regulating edible forms of marijuana. 

Critics say the legislation is too vague.  

“I think it’s the equivalent of Obamacare in terms of not being vetted properly,” says Terrence Jungel, with the Michigan Sheriff’s' Association. 

But supporters say the legislation has been under development for years and is not being rushed through in the final days of the Legislature’s lame-duck session.

State Capitol
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It looks like a decision about whether to ease restrictions on medical marijuana will come down to the final days of the state Legislature’s 2014 session.

The state Senate has been debating for almost a year whether to allow dispensaries and edible forms of medical marijuana in Michigan.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, says he wants to pass House Bills 4271 and 5104 in December. But he says some groups are still concerned the legislation could lead to more illegal pot sales.

  

Marijuana plant.
USFWS

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss whether the legislature will be able to come up with a plan to fix Michigan's roads before the end of the year, a challenge to a Grand Rapids law decriminalizing marijuana, and what’s next on Detroit’s road to recovery.


A scene in Portland.
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On November 4, voters in five Michigan cities voted to decriminalize marijuana possession.

  • Berkley
  • Huntington Woods
  • Mount Pleasant
  • Port Huron
  • Saginaw

These are the most recent cities to do so. But decriminalizing a federally illegal substance is complex. These laws leave a lot up to the interpretation of local law enforcement officials. 

Decriminalizing marijuana began back in 1972 in Ann Arbor, and has really picked up steam over the last few years. Here's an overview of the cities that have decriminalized marijuana in Michigan, when they did so, and what it means for residents and law enforcement.

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BERKLEY, Mich. (AP) - Voters in three southeastern Michigan communities have passed marijuana possession proposals.

Unofficial results on the Oakland County elections website say the proposals were approved Tuesday in Berkley, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge.

Results weren't immediately available late Tuesday in Clare, Frankfort, Harrison, Lapeer, Mount Pleasant, Onaway, Port Huron and Saginaw.

Most called for the legalization or decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

Voters in Hazel Park and Oak Park passed measures in August.

Voters in Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing approved proposals last year that call on police not to arrest people for possession if they are found with an ounce or less of marijuana, are at least 21 years old and are on private property.

State law bars marijuana use and possession unless it's medical marijuana.

USFWS

On Nov. 4, voters in 11 Michigan cities will consider legalizing small amounts of marijuana. That’s the largest number of municipalities to ever consider the question in a single election in the state. As Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reports, marijuana advocates think they can win all of them.

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Investigative journalists Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian present a book that explores the new landscape of cannabis in the United States in a book called A New Leaf: The End of Cannabis Prohibition.

Voters in 22 states, including Michigan, have said yes to medical marijuana laws. In November 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational use of marijuana.

Public opinion continues to shift toward policies that favor legalizing cannabis.

Yet, 49.5% of federal government drug-related arrests involve the sale, manufacture, or possession of cannabis.

In their book, Martin and Rashidian interviewed patients, growers, entrepreneurs, politicians, activists, and regulators in nearly every state with a medical cannabis law.

They analyze how recent milestones toward legalization will affect the war on drugs both domestically and internationally. The book is a unique account of how legalization is manifesting itself in the lives of millions.

Prarie Plant Systems

In Berkley, activists say they've now turned in enough signatures to put decriminalization on the local ballot this fall. 

The city clerk says they'll know whether or not the signatures are valid by Thursday.  

Berkley is just the latest city to consider the issue.

Similar proposals are already on the August primary ballots in Oak Park and Hazel Park.

And the group behind the petitions, the Safer Michigan Coalition, says it plans to turn in another petition in Saginaw next week. 

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The top lawmaker in the state Senate says he’s now on board with legislation to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, is now also embracing a bill that would allow state-certified patients to use edible and other non-smokable forms of marijuana.

Richardville was not a fan of the legislation when the state House approved it late last year. But he says that has changed as he’s heard more from supporters of the bills.

“This is for well-meaning people and it’s all for medical purposes. And [patients and caregivers] came and gave some moving testimony,” said Richardville.

“There’s so much to learn about that topic, and I didn’t know a lot about it. And I didn’t realize how difficult smoking is for some people and the different ingestion techniques that are important to them.”

Supporters of House Bill 4271 say dispensaries allow people to get treatment right away, instead of having to wait for a caregiver to grow and cultivate marijuana. They say that process can take months. Patients with certain diseases, such as cancer, sometimes don’t live long enough to get the benefits of medical marijuana.

A number of state Supreme Court rulings in recent years have made it impossible for dispensaries to operate the way they did when Michigan voters first approved the state’s Medical Marijuana Act in 2008.

Advocates say House Bill 5104 is also necessary because a recent Michigan Court of Appeals ruling limited legal medical marijuana use to smokable forms. They say children and people with respiratory illnesses should not be forced to smoke cannabis. Products like candies, lotions, and oils can produce unique benefits and some don’t produce a “high” effect, according to patients and caregivers.

Richardville chairs the Senate Government Operations Committee, where the bills sit now. He expects to move the bills to the Senate floor over the summer. He says a vote in the full state Senate could come as early as September.

Over the years, people have asked me why I haven’t taken a position on the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana. One man told me it was my patriotic duty as a baby boomer to do so.

I should have told him that all my patriotic fervor was invested in making sure that the music of Bob Seger and Mitch Ryder would never be forgotten. But unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough.

But I do feel that there are a couple aspects of the marijuana issue that deserve more thought. Personally, I don’t have any particular feeling about it one way or another.

flickr user Eljoja / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A package of bills before state lawmakers could make Michigan the very first state to adopt a roadside test that would tell police whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana.

Current law allows police to test the blood, breath and urine of drivers pulled over for erratic driving. The proposed legislation now being debated would add a roadside saliva test that could tell police if a driver is impaired by pot.

Cynthia Canty spoke with State Representative Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway Twp., who sponsored the legislation. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – More than five years after Michigan voters legalized medical marijuana, advocates say gaps in the law cause needless confusion and prosecution.

Two Republican House bills aim to clarify the law by legalizing dispensaries and edibles. Neither was directly addressed in the 2008 law, but court rulings have since judged them illegal. More than 100,000 patients and 27,000 caregivers are licensed by the state to use and grow marijuana.

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Michigan residents suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will now be able to get medical marijuana, marking the first mental-health disorder approved for medical marijuana use.

The decision came yesterday, as the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs signed off on the proposal from the Michigan Medical Marihuana Review panel.

As Michigan Public Radio Network’s Jake Neher explains, the decision is the result of months of deliberation.

How will the decision affect veterans who apply for federal benefits? Is Lansing considering adding other conditions to the issue?

Listen to the full interview above. 

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