Lobbyists address pot legalization vote at recent WFBA meeting

FLINT TWP. — Recreational marijuana use could be legalized by Michigan voters when they go to the polls on Nov. 6.

The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act will be on the ballot in November and, if approved, it will legalize the recreational use of marijuana, as well as establishing laws for growing, cultivating, regulating and taxing cannabis.

Jenn Zelinski with Dunaskiss Consulting and Development in Lake Orion, addressed the West Flint Business Association meeting, Sept. 20, and outlined the details of the act and the process approval of the proposal will set in motion.

If approved, Michigan will be the 10th state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana for recreation use. Voters in Michigan approved marijuana for medicinal use in 2008.

The Nov. 6 ballot proposal will make it legal, under state and local law, for adults 21 years old and older to possess and use marijuana. Zelinski said it will also legalize industrial strength hemp, control the commercial adult use market, create a regulated market and allows for taxation.

“It will also create state-of-the-art, multimillion dollar operations,” she said. “It will create jobs, help the local economy and will create local provisioning centers.”

Growers will require licenses, which will be categorized as Class A – up to 100 plants; Class B – up to 500 plants; and Class C – up to 2,000 plants; Processor (extraction/manufacturing); Marihuana retailer (provisioning center/ dispensary), microbusiness, secure transporter and safety compliance center.

Zelinski said the marijuana business, if legalized, will be a cash only business. Growers and distributors will not be able to put their money in banks and will be required to pay taxes in cash only. This is one reason why facilities will be heavily secure and transporters will be trained.

Rules for individuals include: growing up to 12 plants, storing up to 10 ounces, carry up to 2.5 ounces or 15 grams of concentrate, transfer up to 2.5 ounces without remuneration (cannot be advertised or promoted to the public), and provides individual protection: not unlawful or an offense; not grounds for seizure of forfeiture of property; not grounds for arrest, prosecution or penality; and not grounds for search of inspection.

Zelenski said the state, if the ballot proposal is approved, will be required to, through the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs: promote the rules and regulations; create a process for applications; grant or deny licensing; schedule of fees; establish safe production standards and for sales; establish testing guidelines, packaging, labeling and maximum THC levels; security standards on facilities; record keeping requirements; restrictions on advertising, marketing and the display of marijuana; conduct criminal background checks on applicants; enforce compliance of the act; establish fines for violations; and submit an annual report to the governor.

The act, if approved, will have to be implemented by the state within 12 months, including the establishing of rules and regulations and the application process. Facilities cannot be within 1,000 feet of a school unless a community adopts an ordinance lessening the distance and the state must review completed applications with 90 days.

Zelinski said packaging cannot appeal to minors and the product must be packaged in child resistant containers.

The state will collect a 6-percent sales tax and a 10 percent excise tax on all retail sales of marijuana. While $20 million of the money raised will go toward clinical trials approved by the Federal Department of Agriculture, 15 percent will go to municipalities where marijuana retail stores or microbusinesses are authorized to operate, 15 percent to counties where stores and microbusinesses operate, 35 percent to the school aid fund to be used for K-12 education and 35 percent to the Michigan Transportation Fund to be used for the maintenance of roads and bridges.

“If this passes now, I urge communities to get in front of it,” said Zelinski. “If you don’t want to see it, get out and vote.”

Dunaskiss Consulting and Development was hired by the proponents of the legalization movement to promote the upcoming election, but Zelinski said DCD is just presenting the facts and does not take a side for or against the legalization of marijuana.

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