There’s a lot going on – and a lot to understand – as Michigan moves to bring order to its medical marijuana industry.
Here’s a quick primer of what’s happening:
Next year, Michigan will begin issuing five types of licenses for businesses associated with medical marijuana, from dispensaries to transporters. Last week, state officials warned existing dispensaries to close by Dec. 15 if they want a good shot at a license.
Local communities can opt in or out of the new medical marijuana program. Cities that opt in and allow dispensaries get 25 percent of revenue from the 3 percent tax on gross receipts at dispensaries located in the municipality. Dispensaries (and the other four kinds of licensed facilities) can only operate in communities that opt in.
Voters face two ballot questions at the Nov. 8 ballot, both pushed by a group called Citizens for Sensible Cannabis Reform.
One ballot measure would opt Detroit into the state law and allow dispensaries to be legal and subject to the state tax.
The other ballot measure would allow dispensaries to open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (they must now close by 8 p.m.) and be located within only 500 feet of a church, other dispensary, park, liquor store and childcare centers (rather than 1,000 feet.)
Petitions are being circulated statewide for a statewide referendum to legalize recreational marijuana use in Michigan. If voters pass it, that would mean any adult could buy marijuana, without needing a doctor to certify they need it medicinally. The proposal would impose a 16 percent tax on marijuana with the revenue going to local communities, schools and roads.
The wild card
Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. The Obama administration didn’t challenge state laws legalizing it in places such as Colorado and Washington state.
But the Trump administration isn’t as accommodating. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has asked the Senate to repeal rules so the Justice Department can enforce federal laws against medical marijuana.
That could send the entire industry into a tailspin.