It’s the legislature’s move, says the Committee to Keep Pot out of Neighborhoods and Schools. Michigan marijuana legalization is on the ballot and ready to go to voters in November. But the Michigan group has been a staunch opponent of marijuana in the state. Now, they’ve switched their tune and are willing to go for legalizing marijuana – but only if the legislature takes up the issue and amends the current ballot proposal for recreational use.

Why the Sudden Switcheroo?

The Committee formed in response to a ballot measure to legalize marijuana. And the group ultimately wants regulation of the substance. And they feel that since the medical marijuana industry is stringently regulated, the best approach would be to fully legalize pot and apply the same strict guidelines to it.

But the only way they will agree to such, is if the Michigan legislature rewrites the proposed bill to address regulation. No rewrite for Nov. 6, the Committee will return to the opposition. By amending the bill now, the group hopes to thwart potential legalization hurdles, rules and regulations.

Mark Fisk, a spokesman for the committee, reiterated that, “Regardless of our feelings on the issue, the question now is how to regulate and control recreational marijuana.” The goal, says the group, is to create a Michigan marijuana legalization bill that closely mirrors the regulations of and has the same level of accountability of the medical marijuana act.

How do the Medical and Recreational Bills Differ?

It comes down to licenses. Current MMJ rules require a license approving board (which is currently reviewing all applications right now). This board consists of individuals appointed by the Governor and House and Senate leaders.

The proposal for recreational marijuana in Michigan, or full legalization of marijuana in Michigan, would remove this licensing board completely. Instead, state Licensing and Regulatory Affairs would take control of approving and distributing recreational licenses. Additionally, legalization would have a higher tax rate than MMJ (10% excise tax, 6% sales tax). This surpasses medical marijuana tax rates (3% excise tax, 6% sales tax). The Committee wants the same tax rates to apply regardless of medical versus recreational.

But the Legislature isn’t Budging

The Senate has not agreed, nor really disagreed either, to take up the task of amending the proposed bill for Michigan marijuana legalization. There are basically three options with the current cannabis conundrum:

  1. Do nothing – The Legislature can opt to do nothing – since the bill is already written – and it will go before voters in November.
  2. Submit their own offer – The Legislature can offer up an amendment of their own, which will then go on the ballot in November.
  3. Agree to amend – The Legislature can agree to the amendment request, possibly alter statements within it, (but they don’t have to), which will cause it to become law immediately. It won’t require the governor’s signature.

Either way, the Committee has made their position clear. If there is no legislative agreement for the vote, “this committee will oppose the ballot initiative” again, says Fisk.

Who Hasn’t Switched their Tune on Michigan Marijuana Legalization?

Two opponents of Michigan marijuana legalization are Healthy and Productive Michigan and Smart Approaches to Marijuana. The groups have rallies at the state Capitol. They remain against the Legislature amending the proposal and against voters approving recreational marijuana.

The Committee to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, who created the legalization bill even wants legislative action too.

Josh Harvey, spokesman for the Committee argued that, “When even your opposition is arguing in support of marijuana legalization, it is clear that now is the time to end cannabis prohibition in Michigan.”

June 5th is the Deadline

The Legislature only has until June 5th to decide whether to intervene and amend the marijuana legalization proposal.

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