political | 10.04.2018

The State of Cannabis in: Michigan

Adrian Daniel Schramm

Staff

The vote for the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act is coming up on November 6. And, while the push for legalized cannabis all across the country has been gaining traction, and polls in Michigan show that most are in favor of legalization, the fight is far from over.

The Michigan state House passed legislation 10/2/18 that prohibits the possession, use, and sale of cannabis-infused beer, wine, liquor, and mixed drinks in the state. Legislators voted 101-4 in favor, and Governor Rick Snyder is now expected to sign the measure to make it law.

Michigan is not alone in outlawing bud-and-booze beverages: California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control reiterated this past July in a memo any beverages infused with cannabinoids are illegal as well.

Supporters say the bill is meant to put regulatory infrastructure in place in case Michigan legalizes marijuana for recreational use in November. The idea is that marijuana-infused alcohol could lead to an increase in drunk/intoxicated driving, and pose a risk to the public.

Opponents of the bill, however, contend that this sort of legislation seeks to address a problem that doesn't actually exist, and is ultimately overreach by the state government: There is no commercial market for cannabis-infused beverages to regulate, and, even if legalization does pass in November, liquor establishments won't be able to sell any infused beverages anyway as cannabis is still illegal at the national level.

Cannabis Support vs. Opposition 

The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, if passed, would allow adults 21+ to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, and to grow up to 12 plants at home.

The support campaign, led by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, has recently been outpaced by the enthusiasm of their opposition, the Healthy and Productive Michigan anti-marijuana campaign.

HPM, in conjunction with the Michigan Sheriffs Association, has been hosting events all across the state of Michigan, as well as employing  a strong media presence in both traditional and digital media platforms, to combat the pro-legalization vote. HPM also enjoys the backing of the national Smart Approaches to Marijuana anti-cannabis organization.

Though there doesn't seem to be too much concern: Support for marijuana legalization in Michigan is currently at around 60% for eligible voters this November. And the biggest battle was getting it on the ballot in the first place; the first time this was attempted by MILegalize in 2016, there was a new law written by the state legislature to block the initiative from making the ballot. In 2018, the CRMLA doubled their efforts, followed the proper channels, and were successful in getting the vote into the hands of the people.

And the trend across the country is a positive one as well: Legislation that passed in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state, Nevada, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont or the District of Columbia lends itself to the notion that Michigan will indeed be among the next states to legalize.

Cannabis Done the Michigan Way

So what will change? While there will certainly be some backlash from prohibitionists should legislation pass, and there are valid concerns that deserve attention, legalization does not depend solely on the often hyperbolic arguments made on the campaign trail. 

In general, those either for, or against, marijuana already know their stance on cannabis use, and either will, or won't, take part in the industry once it becomes as legal as alcohol or cigarettes.

But what is important in the state of Michigan is that the people have their say. As polls have continued to show strong support by the public, as reported by the polls, there have also been numerous cannabis-based events that have taken place over the last few months, from Cannapalooza in Lincoln, to the Cannabis Cup held in Clio, to countless other business, recreation, and information-based events around the state of Michigan; cannabis has been a large part of the Michigan day-to-day for quite some time already. 

The November vote, ultimately, just makes that stance official.

Though, what other sorts of regulations and roadblocks will come as a result, like the recent vote to regulate alcoholic beverages, remains to be seen.

Interested in what is going on with cannabis in other states around the country? Read this article next: The State of Cannabis in: Missouri