You still can’t light up in the city of Fenton, at least legally, but some cities have tried to make marijuana legal, in certain amounts, or in certain places.
In the most recent election, five Michigan cities — Saginaw, Oak Park, Berkley, Mt. Pleasant and Huntington Woods, all made small amounts of marijuana legal. “It will be very, very interesting to see how cities handle this,” said Denise Pollicella, a managing attorney for Cannabis Attorneys of Mid Michigan.
She said that four other cities have made enforcing marijuana laws a lower priority.
According to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), Michigan is one of 36 states with pending legislation that will either decriminalize or reduce marijuana charges for possession of small amounts.
While some of these bills have passed, some will die in committee, or expire before the “cross-over” deadline passed, meaning it had to pass the house or senate to be considered for signing by the governor.
This is the likely case for Michigan House Bill 4623 (Senate Bill 626). It would “reduce the penalty for up to an ounce of marijuana to a civil fine; depending on the number of prior convictions, the fine would range from $25 up to $100.” Pollicella said she’d love the bill to pass, but it hasn’t budged since last year. “I don’t think the Michigan legislature is ready to do anything about that right now.”
She said that while the Michigan legislature is rather conservative, there is hope for the mostly Republican-supported HB 4271, which already passed the house. This new act would protect dispensaries and persons acting under the Medical Marihuana Act.
This is because while states may pass laws, law enforcement agencies will likely support federal law, under which any marijuana is still illegal, under the Controlled Substances Act — where alcohol used to reside.
The city of Flint decriminalized marijuana possession of less than an ounce, for anyone older than 19 in 2012. According to local reports, the city police would continue arresting, acting under federal law. This also means that property can be seized from individuals that police believe have any connection to “drug money,” even if they are growing or using marijuana under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA.)
Pollicella would like to see marijuana removed from the Controlled Substances Act, and move the illegal $100 billion industry, into the legal light.
To her, the effort to legalize marijuana is beyond critical mass, with more states either allowing medical marijuana or decriminalizing it. “I don’t see this genie going back in the bottle.”
In Fenton, any marijuana is still illegal, and non-medical use is illegal in Michigan under state law. The 2008 MMMA regulated the use of medical marijuana in Michigan, allowing for dispensaries creating new business opportunity for growers.
Many municipalities, like Fenton, have passed moratoriums on dispensaries, and medical marijuana, preferring to wait for court cases to emerge, challenging other cities and their laws.
The guidance came this year, with Ter Beek v the city of Wyoming, which kicked off the city’s efforts to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries inside the city.
The city ordinance has not been up for a vote.
B20 409 replaced the penalty for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana with a $25 civil fine. It was approved by the D.C. Council on March 4, signed by Mayor Vincent Gray on March 31, and became law on July 17 after surviving a Congressional review period. On Nov. 4, voters approved Initiative 71, which will legalize possession and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and older. The measure will only go into effect after surviving a Congressional review period.
SB 1030 was signed by Gov. Rick Scott on June 16. The new law allows patients with cancer or conditions causing seizures or muscle spasms to use marijuana with under 0.8-percent THC and over 10-percent CBD and allows five licensed businesses to dispense the medicine. There is very little chance of it helping patients because it relies on doctors violating federal law by issuing an ‘order’ for the patients to obtain marijuana; physicians would also have to take an eight-hour class to recommend cannabis and to pass a special exam.
HB 4299, HB 4091, HB 5708; HB 4299 would reduce several marijuana penalties, including reducing the penalty for possession of up to 30 grams to a criminal fine of up to $100; HB 4091 would reduce several marijuana penalties, including reducing the penalty for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana; however, the fine range is higher and is based on prior similar offenses. The classification is also a petty offense; HB 5708 would reduce the penalty for possessing under 30 grams to a new category of offense called a regulatory offense, which avoids a criminal record and is punishable by a $100 fine.
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