Part 2: More analysis of the November 6, 2018 Michigan Recreational Marijuana ballot proposal.

Those who missed my first article on MRTMA can find it here. It dealt with the taxation and spending of the 10% excise tax among other topics.

Michigan is poised to become the first state between Colorado and Vermont / Massachusetts to have legalized recreational pot. North Dakota has a ballot proposal and Ohio voted down a proposal in 2015. Michigan would also have the most liberal law of the 8 states where it is legal.

This article focuses on the introduction and definition of terms in the proposed Act. (Like other acts of the legislature or ballot proposals this Act is not really a law until the judiciary weighs in. More on that later.)

Ballotpedia has a good summary of the differences between the difference state laws as well as other useful information.

 Michigan’s law would allow five times as much pot as any other state’s law. Colorado and California both allow possession of one ounce, which Michigan allows 2.5 oz. The lack of specified penalties for up to double the amount possessed, grown, or gifted to people over 21 allows this misdemeanor to be punished by a small fine. In cities like Ann Arbor, which has thumbed its nose for years at pot laws with its Hash Bash, the fine would probably be less than a parking ticket. By not specifying all of the fines, this means a defacto doubling of the limits in areas with pot-friendly governments.

This 14 page law (plus delegations to administrative agencies) is subject to an up-or-down vote of the people without amendments typically made in the legislature (where there were not enough votes in any state but Vermont).

Who stands to gain from passage of this referendum? According to excellent articles in WORLD magazine, Big Tobacco, Big Alcohol and I would add Big Government. The size and scope of government will grow as it gets addicted to the 10% excise tax, the bribery of village, town, city and county governments, and of course government programs to help addiction. Helping people kick the habit is nowhere mentioned in the 14 page! (yes, no typo) proposal.

 The Devil is in the Details

To be fully informed about Michigan’s proposal, you have to read the entire 14 pages. What’s in the proposal and what is left out are both significant. Here is the first section, which describes the funding and taxes. My comments are in (bold italics). Bold regular font is used to emphasize certain points and make it easier to read.

 

(Introduction)

“An initiation of legislation to allow under state law the personal possession and use of marihuana by persons 21 years of age or older; to provide for the lawful cultivation and sale of marihuana and industrial hemp by persons 21 years of age or older; to permit the taxation of revenue derived from commercial marihuana facilities; to permit the promulgation of administrative rules; and to prescribe certain penalties for violations of this act. The people of the State of Michigan enact:

“Promulgation of administrative rules” is an invitation to mitigate the effects of this law. Some parts of this proposal are invitations to improve it without another ballot proposal or law from the legislature. It depends on who the legislature chooses to write the regulations.

 

Sec. 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act.

Sec. 2. The purpose of this act is to make marihuana legal under state and local law for adults 21 years of age or older, to make industrial hemp legal under state and local law, and to control the commercial production and distribution of marihuana under a system that licenses, regulates, and taxes the businesses involved. The intent is to prevent arrest and penalty for personal possession and cultivation of marihuana by adults 21 years of age or older; remove the commercial production and distribution of marihuana from the illicit market; prevent revenue generated from commerce in marihuana from going to criminal enterprises or gangs; prevent the distribution of marihuana to persons under 21 years of age; prevent the diversion of marihuana to illicit markets; ensure the safety of marihuana and marihuana-infused products; and ensure security of marihuana establishments. To the fullest extent possible, this act shall be interpreted in accordance with the purpose and intent set forth in this section.

OK, here’s an invitation for some new administrative rules to clarify the vague parts of this law. Especially since the first two are pie in the sky and the third could include limiting the amount of pot in “MJ- infused products “to ensure its safety”. Nothing in this law would prevent limiting it to very low (or near zero) levels. :-)

Why pie in the sky: How effective has this worked for cigarettes for example when something that’s bad for you is legal – how have laws on cigarettes to prevent teen smoking, for example? Limiting advertising might help :-).

And we know there will always be a black market for people who would like to mitigate the negative effects of the excise tax. And are used to bypassing the laws: current pot smokers.

 

Sec. 3. As used in this act:

(a) “Cultivate” means to propagate, breed, grow, harvest, dry, cure, or separate parts of the marihuana plant by manual or mechanical means.

(b) “Department” means the department of licensing and regulatory affairs.

(c) “Industrial hemp” means a plant of the genus cannabis and any part of that plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration that does not exceed 0.3% on a dry-weight basis, or per volume or weight of marihuana-infused product, or the combined percent of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid in any part of the plant of the genus cannabis regardless of moisture content.

(d) “Licensee” means a person holding a state license.

(e) “Marihuana” means all parts of the plant of the genus cannabis, growing or not; the seeds of the plant; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin, including marihuana concentrate and marihuana-infused products. For purposes of this act, marihuana does not include:

See comments on section 2c and (3) below.

(1) the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks, except the resin extracted from those stalks, fiber, oil, or cake, or any sterilized seed of the plant that is incapable of germination;

(2) industrial hemp; or

(3) any other ingredient combined with marihuana to prepare topical or oral administrations, food, drink, or other products.

Pandora’s box. The sky’s the limit on this stuff. How about insect repellent for those seeking the Pure Michigan high while camping? Rocky Mountain High has nothing on the Great Lakes High – how about sunscreen to take to the beach? You get the idea. Both of these substances are absorbed into the body through the skin. “Yeah officer, we’re just headed back home from the beach. Like wow, man…”

(f) “Marihuana accessories” means any equipment, product, material, or combination of equipment, products, or materials, which is specifically designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing marihuana into the human body.

(g) “Marihuana concentrate” means the resin extracted from any part of the plant of the genus cannabis.

(h) “Marihuana establishment” means a marihuana grower, marihuana safety compliance facility, marihuana processor, marihuana microbusiness, marihuana retailer, marihuana secure transporter, or any other type of marihuana-related business licensed by the department.

(i) “Marihuana grower” means a person licensed to cultivate marihuana and sell or otherwise transfer marihuana to marihuana establishments.

(j) “Marihuana-infused product” means a topical formulation, tincture, beverage, edible substance, or similar product containing marihuana and other ingredients and that is intended for human consumption.

This is pretty broad, covers just about anything you can imagine. Gives a pretty wide berth for those who want to drive home from a party, or just having your regular one or two drinks laced with pot after work.

(k) “Marihuana microbusiness” means a person licensed to cultivate not more than 150 marihuana plants; process and package marihuana; and sell or otherwise transfer marihuana to individuals who are 21 years of age or older or to a marihuana safety compliance facility, but not to other marihuana establishments.

This would include people who are supplementing their income by growing it for sale to their friends and regular customers. Sort of an AMWAY for pot. “Like wow, what an opportunity to make some easy extra cash. Could also feed my meth/crack/gambling habit, man.”

(l) “Marihuana processor” means a person licensed to obtain marihuana from marihuana establishments; process and package marihuana; and sell or otherwise transfer marihuana to marihuana establishments.

(m) “Marihuana retailer” means a person licensed to obtain marihuana from marihuana establishments and to sell or otherwise transfer marihuana to marihuana establishments and to individuals who are 21 years of age or older.

(n) “Marihuana secure transporter” means a person licensed to obtain marihuana from marihuana establishments in order to transport marihuana to marihuana establishments.

(o) “Marihuana safety compliance facility” means a person licensed to test marihuana, including certification for potency and the presence of contaminants.

(p) “Municipal license” means a license issued by a municipality pursuant to section 16 of this act that allows a person to operate a marihuana establishment in that municipality.

(q) “Municipality” means a city, village, or township.

(r) “Person” means an individual, corporation, limited liability company, partnership of any type, trust, or other legal entity.

(s) “Process” or “Processing” means to separate or otherwise prepare parts of the marihuana plant and to compound, blend, extract, infuse, or otherwise make or prepare marihuana concentrate or marihuana-infused products.

(t) “State license” means a license issued by the department that allows a person to operate a marihuana establishment.

(u) “Unreasonably impracticable” means that the measures necessary to comply with the rules or ordinances adopted pursuant to this act subject licensees to unreasonable risk or require such a high investment of money, time, or any other resource or asset that a reasonably prudent businessperson would not operate the marihuana establishment.”

i.e. no punitive license fees… Who defines what is “unreasonably impractible”? The plaintiff or defendant? The judge? This is also too vague and cries out for promulgating more administrative rules – see comments on introduction.

More reading on this topic

Part 1 of my analysis is here, with the taxing and spending if the proposal passes along with a map showing the geography of legalized pot.

If Proposal 1 is approved, Michigan would have an especially liberal law, thanks to the efforts of people like Rick Thompson. You can read his series of marijuana articles posted on our USA Melting Pot website by clicking on the link by his name. If you would like to write articles for our website, please contact me with a message on LinkedIn.

More to come in future articles…

Other articles

In previous blog posts, I began telling the story of my brain tumor and the depression which followed it. The second article in the series described my faith in God which sustained me through both trials.

Having recently started a word-by-word translation of Martin Luther’s Bible from German to English, I introduced the project and published Matthew Chapter 1 . Later I wrote commentary on it; my church background and theological training is in my USA Melting Pot bio.
Dale Murrish writes on historytraveltechnologyreligion and politics for the USA Melting Pot club, LinkedIn, and Troy Patch. On the USA Melting Pot website are over a dozen ethnic presentations from people with firsthand knowledge under Culture & Country (right hand side), and outdoor presentations (Hobby & Fun), including posts on bicycling, skiing and camping.

Other interesting articles on the USA Melting Pot website have been written by Bilal Rathur on his hajj to Saudi Arabia (Part 6) and by Carl Petersen. Thanks to both of them for their contributions.