Marijuana could be a hot topic in Michigan in 2018.
That’s because the state is gearing up to start reviewing “hundreds, if not well in excess of 1,000” applications for licenses to operate under a new medical marijuana regulatory system adopted last year, said Lance Boldrey, an attorney at Dykema Gossett PLLC in Lansing, who leads the firm’s cannabis law practice.
Gov. Rick Snyder last year signed into law a new regulatory system that will license medical marijuana growers, processors, transporters, dispensaries and testing facilities. The law also imposes a new state excise tax on dispensaries.
The state worked over the last year — the legislation took effect in December 2016 — to come up with a set of temporary rules that would allow growers and medical marijuana businesses to start getting licenses while regulators work on writing permanent rules, Boldrey said. That process could take a year or 18 months.
And activists are working on two separate ballot drives that would allow recreational marijuana use in Michigan. The first, and larger campaign, would regulate marijuana like alcohol and follow a similar licensing structure to medical cannabis. The second, grassroots effort would end any state ban on marijuana use.
Boldrey said the larger initiative has some potential political flaws, including a provision that would prohibit people from using marijuana while driving but not explicitly ban passengers from any consumption other than smoking.
“I do think there are flaws in there that could be exploited in an opposition campaign. On the other hand, there is just a ton of momentum nationally and within Michigan when it comes to public opinions on this industry. It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens with that initiative — whether there’s a legal challenge that goes after some legal flaws in the initiative,