Current Issues
Quick Links: Federal - State Local - Other Important Issues - Municipal Statistics

This page is maintained by the WMCG's Policy & Endorsements Committee

FEDERAL

The Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act

Senators Booker, Schumer, and Wyden introduced a bill that will:

  • Remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act - decriminalizing it on a federal level. States could still choose to legalize or not within their borders, but would not be able to prohibit transport across state lines;
  • Give federal oversight of cannabis to the FDA (it is currently overseen by the DEA since it is federally illegal);
  • Allow for federal research and grants, administered by the NIH, CDC, and DOT;
  • Add a federal excise tax that increases to 25% over a few years, in addition to any state or local taxes on cannabis;
  • Fund, among other things, small business programs to help cannabis businesses, and create social equity programs called the Cannabis Opportunity Program and Equitable Licensing Grant Program; 
  • Allow for automatic expungement of arrests and convictions for non-violent federal cannabis offenses.

A detailed summary of the bill's discussion draft is available here (PDF). The WMCG supports many parts of this bill, but has concerns. A 25% tax is far too high, even with allowances for small business exemptions. Additionally, there are significant pitfalls associated with interstate commercial transport.

Comments were due to Cannabis_Reform@finance.senate.gov by September 1, 2021. The WMCG produced a brief overview of the bill, list of support/oppose points, and sample email language: DOC (Word); PDF (Acrobat). We'll keep you apprised of the bill's status right here on this page, and in members-only policy updates. If you're not yet a member, be sure to join today!

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STATE

State Rules Changes (Public Hearing in Lansing on Monday 9/27/2021)

The MRA recently released new draft rules for the cannabis industry. A public hearing is scheduled for 9:30 AM on Monday, September 27, 2021 at the Williams Building in Lansing. This public hearing is the day before the WMCG's Cannabis Policy & Politics event.

The WM Cannabis Guild is also hosting a free webinar/Q&A with MRA Director Andrew Brisbo on Friday, September 17 at 12 pm. This event will specifically focus on the proposed rule changes. You can sign up here for the event. If you're not a WMCG member yet, please join here.

Review the proposed rules here (all links open in a new window):

All proposed rulesets in one combined document (PDF)

Notably, two new license types are proposed:

  • Class A Microbusiness (see "Marihuana Licensees" proposal, p.7) which would allow cultivation of up to 300 plants and retail sales (no on-site processing)
  • Marijuana Education Research (see "Marihuana Licenses" proposal, p.28)

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Michigan House Bills 5300, 5301, & 5302 (introduced 9/13/21)

State Representatives TC Clements (R-Monroe County) Jim Lilly (R-Grand Haven/Ottawa County), and Richard Steenland (R-Warren/Roseville) introduced House Bills 5300, 5301, and 5302 which together would limit caregivers to serving only one patient, rather than six; pay a $500 annual registration fee; require product testing and registration in the State’s seed-to-sale tracking system (metrc), and would ban anyone with a non-marijuana felony from becoming a caregiver. Click the bill numbers above to link to the language of the bills. The three bills have been referred to the Committee on Regulatory Reform

Rep. Lilly's District (82) is within the WMCG's focus area. Find your State Representative on our website to let them know how you feel about these bills.

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Michigan Senate Bill 619 (introduced 9/1/21)

State Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) has introduced a bill in the State Senate which would strike statutory language allowing the Marijuana Regulatory Agency to deny an applicant based on “integrity, moral character, and reputation.”

Under the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act as currently written, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency is empowered to deny an applicant because of their "integrity, moral character, and reputation" or if the applicant has any prior marijuana-related offenses, even if the offense has been pardoned, expunged, or reversed. The proposed legislation would fix this.

It also clarifies that people with marijuana felony or misdemeanor convictions are not automatically disqualified from participating in the program. The full text of the bill is available online here, and the next step for the bill will be review by the State's Committee on Regulatory Reform

This bill will definitely affect prospective cannabis business licensees within the WMCG's focus area. Find your State Senator on our website to let them know how you feel about this bill.

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Michigan House Bill 4608 (introduced 4/13/21)

State Representative Mary Whiteford (R-Allegan County) introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of billboards to advertise to advertise marijuana, marijuana products or infused products, a cannabis facility, or a licensee. Cannabis companies are already restricted from broadcast and most digital advertising, so they are limited to outdoor advertising, and direct contact, like text and email lists. The full text of the bill is available online here. It has been referred to the Committee on Regulatory Reform

Rep. Whiteford's district is located within the WMCG's focus area. Find your State Representative on our website to let them know how you feel about this bill.

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LOCAL

Opt-In Ordinances for:

Grand Haven (adult use)
Grand Haven opted in to allow the medical cannabis industry (effective March 2020), but has not yet acted to allow the cannabis industry to sell for adult use. 55.5% of Grand Haven citizens voted in favor of Proposal 18-1 (which allowed adult use cannabis in Michigan) in November 2018. Medical-only cannabis facilities generally find it difficult to stay in business if they cannot also access the adult use market. Do you live in Grand Haven and want to allow the licensed adult use cannabis industry to operate? Join the Guild to help bring this about!

Kentwood
54.6% of Kentwood residents voted in favor of Proposal 18-1 in November 2018. Approximately a week after that, the City Commission voted to prohibit the legal cannabis industry within their City, with just one vote (E. Bridson) against prohibition . We are aware of candidates for Kentwood City offices who are interested in helping bring about positive change for cannabis patients, industry, and adult recreational users. Do you live in Kentwood and want to help change this prohibition? Join the Guild and let's make it happen!

Wyoming
55.9% of Wyoming residents voted in favor of Proposal 18-1 in November 2018. Even so, on December 4, 2018 the City Council banned the licensed cannabis industry from the City. In discussions with City officials and staff, it doesn't sound like there's much energy to change City ordinances to reflect the will of the voters, even now. Do you live in Wyoming and want to change this? Join the Guild and make sure your voice is heard!

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Grand Rapids Zoning Ordinance 

The most recent changes to the Grand Rapids Zoning Ordinance (effective October 2020) made it even more restrictive, adding new separation distance requirements from previously undefined land uses, effectively shutting down the chance for new retail licenses in the City. We seek to lessen these restrictions, and to allow the following license types:

  • Class A Microbusiness (proposed)
  • Marijuana Education Research (proposed)
  • Temporary Marijuana Events
  • Designated Consumption Establishments (consumption lounges)

Combined with the "Clean Air in Public Places" ordinance (see below) and many anti-cannabis landlords, there are very, very few places for cannabis patients to legally consume their legal medicine within the City. There are many bars for people to consume alcohol (which they can also do in parks during events), cigar lounges for people to smoke tobacco products (which they can also do on golf courses)... but no Designated Consumption Lounges.

If you live in Grand Rapids and want to help make this a reality... help out by joining the Guild!

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Social Equity Policies

To their credit, Grand Rapids has worked hard to create their Cannabis Social Equity Policy (check it out here). We support the efforts of those working in government to recognize and try to correct so many of the inequities that have resulted from disparate enforcement of anti-cannabis policies over many decades, especially when that unequal enforcement has been disproportionately visited upon communities of color.

For more information, we suggest checking out this paper: A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform. It shows how decades of unequal cannabis enforcement are still playing out today. It's eye-opening, and very frustrating. Did you know that, nationwide, you're 3.5x more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession if you're black than if you're white? In Michigan it's 3.6x.

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Grand Rapids Clean Air in Public Places Ordinance

This ordinance (effective January 1, 2021) prohibits any consumption of cannabis (in any form) in most public places, as well as hotels and motels, and public & private workplaces. The official story is that it's intended to reflect the State ban on public consumption... but it goes too far, especially for non-smoked forms of cannabis (in a Clean Air ordinance). It boils down for another chance for people to get arrested for using their needed medicine, in a city and State where it is legal. 

Note that golf courses are exempted to allow smoking... of tobacco. There's also an exemption for Designated Consumption Establishments (aka consumption lounges)... although those are not currently allowed by City code. The WMCG seeks to, at minimum, remove the prohibition of non-smoked cannabis from this Clean Air ordinance. Add your voice to the cause by becoming a member!

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Other Important Issues

Decriminalize Nature Grand Rapids

Decriminalize Nature Grand Rapids (DNGR) is an educational and advocacy campaign with a goal to improve Grand Rapids resident health including depression, end-of-life anxiety/suffering, and addiction. The campaign seeks to decriminalize natural entheogens to improve community health, anaims to educate the Greater Grand Rapids community about the therapeutic potential, history of indigenous use, and approaches to safe and responsible use of entheogenic plants and fungi. These include psilocybin mushrooms, Iboga, mescaline-containing cacti, and ayahuasca. Entheogens show great promise to help treat many current mental health problems.

There are many parallels between the campaign to decriminalize cannabis in Grand Rapids (a successful effort led by the founders of the WMCG, among others), and we are in full support of DNGR's efforts. Our members and board members have spoken in support of DNGR at Grand Rapids City Commission hearings and elsewhere in the community, and we encourage all of our members to support (and donate, if possible) to this important cause.

Learn more about Decriminalize Nature Grand Rapids at their website, www.decrimnaturegr.org.

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Michigan Senate Bill 631

Senators Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) have introduced a bill in the State Senate that would legalize the possession, cultivation and delivery of an array of plant- and fungus-derived psychedelics like psilocybin and mescaline.

The bill does not legalize the commercial production or sale, but it does exempt people from criminal penalties for such activities so long as they are not “receiving money or other valuable consideration for the entheogenic plant or fungus.

People would be able to charge a “reasonable fee for counseling, spiritual guidance, or a related service that is provided in conjunction with the use of an entheogenic plant or fungus under the guidance and supervision of an individual providing the service.”

The full text of the bill is available online here, and the next step for the bill will be review by the State's Committee on Judiciary and Public SafetyFind your State Senator on our website to let them know how you feel about this bill.

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Municipal Statistics 

As of August 2021 (per Marijuana Regulatory Agency statistical reports):

There are 1,773 municipalities in the State of Michigan.

Of those, 156 have "opted in" to allow the legal cannabis industry to grow, process, sell, transport, and/or test medical cannabis products. That's just less than 9% of communities. 1,617 have opted out.

107 communities have "opted in" to allow the legal cannabis industry to grow, process, sell, transport, and/or test adult use (aka recreational) cannabis products. That represents just under 6% of all communities in the State.
1,399 have "opted out." 267 have taken no action, so that's a big gray area.

Statewide, 63% of voters approved medical cannabis (the MMMA) in 2008, and 56% approved adult-use cannabis (the MRTMA) in 2018. There is strong local support in many communities to allow the legal cannabis industry to operate.

If your community's elected officials have not yet decided to respect the will of the voters and opt in, let us know! Your voice is important... and can be made more effective by joining the Guild. 

Another interesting statistic:

At the beginning of March 2021, the State of Michigan sent its first excise tax share disbursement of $28,001.32 per licensed retailer or microbusiness, to communities around the State. This represents a potentially significant amount of unrestricted funds, which can typically be used by communities for anything in their budget. At a recent WMCG webinar with MRA Director Andrew Brisbo, he estimated the next disbursement to be larger than before, and likely around the end of calendar year 2021.  

Is your city/town/village council hemming and hawing on whether to opt in? ~$28k per retailer/microbusiness (or more!) might help.

As of mid-September 2021 there are 7 licensed microbusinesses and 370 licensed retailers, statewide. (Click for a map)

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