celebrating cannabis in 2018 with a party horn

Recreational Marijuana in Michigan, Check the Facts.

After months of waiting for petition approval and possible pre-empting by the legislature, recreational marijuana will be on the ballot in Michigan this November.

There’s already plenty of discussion on the topic and as we head to the mid-term elections, it’ll heat up. When Michigan voters approve this measure (and it’s looking promising) we will be the 11th state (plus D.C) to have recreational marijuana. In addition to job creation, recreational marijuana will bring significant tax revenue to the state. Recreational marijuana will be subject to a 10 percent excise tax, on top of our 6 percent sales tax. The money will be used for schools, road repairs and local municipality uses where businesses are located. In Colorado for the first five months of 2018, $109 million has been raised in tax revenue. Michigan has a larger population which gives it significant revenue potential. Neighboring states including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin have significant close-by populations that will contribute to our income.

We’re voting yes on the recreational marijuana proposal.

It’s important for you to be ready with facts to build a case for those on the fence. It’s important to be able to talk about why ending cannabis prohibition is good for our state and to understand the changes that will occur if approved.

Michigan’s recreational marijuana ballot initiative is complex and has a lot of interesting nuances. It’s based on the best of what the authors and lawyers could find in other recreational legal states. You can read the whole proposal on the Coalition to Legalize Marijuana Like Alcohol website.

We made a little video the goes over some of the key points of the recreational marijuana initiative and where people’s concerns might be. Canna Communication will be blogging about this for the next few months. Come back for more information.

 

 

sunlight over Yosemite in the State of California where marijuana is legal.

California’s Legal Marijuana: One More Reason to Love the Golden State

As if the stunning light, mountains, rolling ocean waves and wine weren’t reasons enough to love California, now they give us legal marijuana. As you might have heard, the state ended marijuana prohibition on January 1, 2018.

light through the trees in California near the Thomas Aquinas College. California's legal marijuana grows in communities north of this area, which is close to Ojai.

What’s the big deal? There are other states (and districts) where adults can buy cannabis for any reason. They include Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Washington D.C. And it appears that Vermont, New Jersey and Rhode Island are also on the cusp of adult-use legalization, too, with elected officials leading efforts in those states.

In Michigan, our home state, citizens and cannabis advocates are awaiting approval of petition signatures that will bring a vote on adult-use in 2018. News on petition approval is expected at any time. Our border neighbor to the north, Canada is in: cannabis will be available for purchase by adults in mid-summer.

Back to the question above: why is California remarkable?

California Scales Up the Impact of Legal Marijuana

Not only is California a large state geographically, there are a lot of people who live there, 39.5 million, to be specific. The entire country of Canada has 35.1 million. In comparison, Michigan has 9.8 million residents. The legal western states quite simply don’t have the density of population of California. Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Nevada combined have 15 million residents.

The Golden State also boats the sixth largest economy in the world. The contribution of California’s legal marijuana industry will make to the economy is astounding: projections are it will be an industry worth over $5.1 billion this year alone. It is estimated that the existing black market is valued at $13.5 billion.

The state is levying a 15 percent tax on marijuana, collected by provisioning businesses. Cities and towns with those facilities can add their own taxes, too.

drawing of Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead, a proponent of legal marijuanaIt’s not just California dreamers, hippies and Deadheads that made marijuana legalization happen. Both Pew and Gallup research firms have published opinion research that indicates Americans are much more in favor of legalization than not. Gallup’s most recent survey had favorability at 64 percent. In Michigan, polling by EPIC-MRA in February 2017 showed the 57 percent of Michiganders favored marijuana legalization.

Marijuana Legalization in Michigan isn’t a Sure Thing.

The most recent successful vote in California, Prop. 64 was the second attempt at legalization. A legalization ballot proposal was defeated there in 2010, 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent. Michigan will face some of the same opponents in the November election: pharmaceutical companies, healthcare organizations, law enforcement and the alcohol industry have all historically funded anti-cannabis efforts. But, we think public opinion (and a good voter turnout) will be in our favor.

As Goes California, so Goes the Nation.

We asked Jeff Hank, the board chair of MILegalize what this means for Michigan.

the mountains and ocean along the pacific coast highway in California where marijuana is legal“With the largest U.S. state now legal, Americans will see cannabis more normalized, and visitors to the Golden State returning home will wonder why they are second-class citizens when it comes to personal liberty and cannabis policy common sense,” Hank said.

“When crafting the MILegalize proposal to regulate marijuana like alcohol, we studied every state including California for best practices. We took what already worked in Michigan and included concepts like the ‘micro-business’ which California also has in a different form, and we included modern regulations to prevent diversion to minors. Big money can dominate the cannabis market, to the exclusion of legacy farmers and shopkeepers. California hasn’t done a very good job managing this. Michigan has the opportunity to end the civil rights crisis of cannabis prohibition, and also ensure upward mobility and market access for caregivers and entrepreneurs. This is critical to eliminate the black market and benefit the general public,” he said.

State by state ballot-driven legalization isn’t the best way to end American cannabis prohibition. But until the federal government comes to terms with its failed drug policies and declassifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, we’ll live with a patchwork of varied state regulations.

We saw how important this is recently when Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo. His action, which threatens legal state marijuana businesses with DEA action, also threatens the legalization movement in states that are trying to end prohibition.

Certainly, those businesses that are making money from cannabis in California and other legal states are coming into Michigan, we’ve seen their presence already in our medical marketplace.

Might it be business, rather than citizens that pushes federal legalization forward? We hope it is a coalition of both and that the change comes soon.

thankful graphic because we are thankful for cannabis legalization in Michigan

This Thanksgiving: Ten Things to be Thankful For if You’re Into Cannabis

 

Happy Thanksgiving week, friends! As you think about all the things in your life that you’re thankful for, here are ten cannabis-related nuggets to add to your list.

  1.     If you live in Michigan, join us in giving thanks that the MI Legalize petition drive was successful. It will still be a few months, maybe more, to see if Michigan’s adult-use marijuana legalization measure makes it to the ballot in 2018. When polled at the beginning of 2017, a majority of Michigan voters were in favor of ending prohibition.
  2.     More broadly across the country, in 2016 the Gallup polling organization, which has been asking Americans about marijuana legalization since 1969, reported its highest favorability number ever—60 percent of Americans are interested in seeing marijuana legalized. It compares these views to same-sex marriage before legalization.
  3.     Citizens of California and Nevada approved recreational adult-use marijuana legalization during the 2017 election.  If the saying is true, “as California goes, so goes the nation” then the rest of the U.S. isn’t far behind.  At present 29 states and Washington DC have marijuana-use laws on the books and more are following the lead of the Golden State.
  4.     Justin Trudeau made recreational adult-use marijuana legal in Canada. About a year and a half after he took office, the Canadian a plate of poutinePrime Minister made good on a campaign promise to legalize cannabis. The law takes effect in July 2018. We expect to see poutine sales to soar, too!
  5. It’s hard to believe that Colorado has had adult-use legalization for five years now, and it seems like everything is pretty much ok. Use of marijuana by young people didn’t increase, arrests are down (unless you are a person of color), traffic fatalities didn’t increase nor did violent crime, opioid use declined, and communities used marijuana tax revenue to improve schools and build healthier communities.
  6.     The American Legion is pushing the federal government to remove marijuana from a Schedule I drug. They’re seeing great progress in helping veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries with medical cannabis. They’re advocating for more research and allowing VA physicians to discuss the plant with their patients.
  7.     Keeping close attention to public opinion in the state and nationally, five Michigan gubernatorial candidates are pro-cannabis.  At a recent candidate forum, four Democrats and one Republican voiced support for legalization. Dr. Abdul El-Sayed said, “This has become a civil rights issue,” referring to statistics showing criminal enforcement has had a greater negative impact on low-income people and communities of color. “We have an opportunity here in Michigan to rethink marijuana,” he added.
  8.     Michigan medical marijuana patients were threatened and then protected from dispensary closures. In a crazy move, two members of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Board suggested the closure of all operating dispensaries in September. The dispensaries were operating in Michigan’s gray area of the law until new licenses could be handed out in December. This move would have left thousands of patients without medicine. Thanks to a bi-partisan group of state legislators and public pressure the board members backed off and dispensaries have (mostly) remained open.
  9.     Orrin Hatch, an 83-year old Mormon Republican Senator came out for medical marijuana with a dozen or so puns. All joking aside, he introduced a bill that would remove restrictions on marijuana research. He was moved to do so because of a friend who suffers from severe seizures.
  10. Forward-looking women are taking significant leadership roles in cannabis. Women make up roughly 36 percent of the leaders in the cannabis industry, including 63 percent of top management positions, according to Marijuana Business Daily. When compared to the rest of American businesses, this is significant.  Women hold just 5 percent of the CEO positions and 25 percent of the leadership roles. Because the industry is so young, traditional barriers to entry don’t exist.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and don’t forget all the great cannabis-infused recipes available! Here’s a few from our friends at Leafly.

 

What’s Your Responsibility to the Cannabis Community?

Working in cannabis comes with responsibility to the cannabis community. For decades, people working with plants or just having flower on their person have been the target of law enforcement harassment; have been jailed and had assets and property seized. With this dark narrative, comes a responsibility for everyone working in the industry now to be a good citizen of cannabis.

Here’s how to improve your citizenship.

Know Your Cannabis History

Bob Marley wrote in his song, Buffalo Soldier: If you know your history, then you would know where you coming from. If you want to learn a little about marijuana’s colorful past, Wikipedia has well-cited page devoted to history. The historical section of the Pro Con website is comprehensive and easy to Weed the People book coverread. Two recently published books, “Weed the People” and “Cannabis Manifesto,” were written by a respected journalist and a noted activist and provide history and cultural context. The books also discuss the social justice issues around the criminalization of cannabis in communities of color. We’ve written our own short modern cannabis history here, too.

 

What Are The Marijuana Laws in Your State?

No matter where you live or travel, be smart about the laws regarding marijuana possession. Whether you live in a marijuana-hostile state, like Wyoming or are lucky enough to be in a cannabis-friendly place like Colorado or in one of 29 states where marijuana is medicinal or been decriminalized–know the law and your rights. There are cities, too, like Grand Rapids, Michigan where decriminalization has taken place within a state where non-medical marijuana is still a crime.

Carry a Card

If you live in a medical-only state, you need to have a card. Whether you visit your own physician or make an appointment with one who specialized in A Michigan Medical Marijuana cardMMJ determinations, this is an important step in cannabis citizenship. Having a card also helps provide the government with a accurate data regarding marijuana use; the more people with cards, the more power we have as a group. While we’re all for puff-puff-pass and trying other people’s personal favorites, you don’t do the business, the culture, or the community any favors by purchasing, re-selling or giving away medicine.

Oh, and it’s illegal, too.

Have a Voice

Join and support an advocacy organization like—NORML or the Marijuana Policy Project. They are our voice for marijuana choice on the state and federal level. Meet your local commissioners, state and federal legislative representatives. When action is being taken on cannabis in your community or beyond, it’s important to reach out in person, email or by phone to your elected officials and state your point of view. Reach out to those who oppose and support marijuana issue. Express your appreciation to cannabis-supporting legislators and educate opponents. And always vote.

Stand up For Marijuana

Letting people you know that you are a marijuana patient or a recreational marijuana user is a part of being a good citizen. It’s mentally liberating to come out. You’ll find when you start telling other people that you consume, that you’ll meet more people that do, too. Speaking up also helps you articulate your case for marijuana as medicine or adult-use. Not everyone is able to publicly stand up for cannabis, usually because of employment or family issues. You don’t have to come out on Facebook or be part of a social campaign, but be as honest as possible about your use. It’s helpful for people who don’t partake to stand with friends and patients who do. It helps normalize use and builds up the cannabis community, too

Legalization: Keeping Cannabis Secure and Away from Young People

Legalization Helps.

We’re all for a 21 and older law for people wanting to buy cannabis. There’s been talk about the effect of cannabis consumption on developing brains. Until comprehensive research is done, young people, unless medically advised, should avoid the plant and adults shouldn’t provide it to them.

So, if marijuana were more widely available, would teens access it? Yes and no.

Just Try to Get Marijuana Without a Card

flower on a scaleWhen legalized and regulated, buying cannabis is like buying alcohol and/or cigarettes—the product is strictly secured and available only with a photo ID. In Michigan now, a patient must show a medical card and photo ID to even get through the door of a dispensary. The lobby portion of a dispensary is closed off, visually and physically from the consumer. You can’t get anywhere without valid credentials.

If Kids Want Pot, They’ll Find It

We’d be naive to think that there won’t be teens getting their hands on marijuana if they want it. Just like in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and now–young people who want to use marijuana will find it. But, that’s what’s interesting, it appears that teen use in Colorado, the first state to legalize adult-use marijuana, has seen a decrease in use by young people.

cannabis stickersThere are probably a number of factors at play in the teen use statistic. For one, the black market is decreasing, a projection by Marijuana Policy Project estimated that 90 percent of all cannabis produced in Colorado and Washington will be sold through licensed dealer. Further, teens are using fewer drugs than previous generations and since 1991, teen drug and alcohol use has been declining–and it isn’t due to easier access.

Not completely surprising, Colorado teens have the highest level of cannabis use as compared to teens in other states, 11 percent as compared to the national average of 7.2 percent. It would be interesting to know how many of the surveyed students in Colorado were more likely to respond “yes” to the marijuana-use question because of generally more liberal attitudes toward cannabis there. Maybe in a totally legal state it’s just not that big of an issue.