Michigan, Where Cannabis Is Legal And Not Legal At The Same Time, Listen Closely

Michigan regulators are implementing new rules for the state’s legal cannabis program, including lower application fees while legislators and advocates are still busy trying to get cannabis removed from its status as a Schedule l drug. One wonders how both of these situations can exist simultaneously: legal yet illegal? 

First the new legal changes: The Marijuana Regulatory Agency made some changes that went into effect this past Monday, March 7, which include cutting recreational and medical marijuana application fees in half, from $6,000 to $3,000 and setting the initial cultivation license fee at $18,600 while allowing a grower to cultivate up to 300 plants. Also, Class A microbusinesses can buy concentrates and infused products from a processor, and liability insurance will be required of companies when they receive or renew a license.

A new educational research license will be created, though applicants must be accredited by a higher learning commission and have permission from the DEA to conduct cannabis research.

Speaking Of The DEA…which brings us to the next twist.

Despite the state’s wildly successful legal industry, weed remains categorized as a Schedule 1 drug in Michigan just like it does on a federal level, absurdly placing it in the same category as certain opiates, ecstasy LSD and heroin.

New legislation to the rescue: House Bill 5877, named after longtime Ann Arbor marijuana legalization activist and poet John Sinclair who was notoriously sentenced to up to 10 years in prison in 1969 for giving two joints to an undercover cop, aims to change that situation.

Why is cannabis a Schedule 1 substance in Michigan? Good Question

“Why? It’s legal, we’re using it medically, there’s adult use in the state that’s been approved by voters and yet we’re still listing it as a schedule 1 substance,” said state Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, who sponsored the House Bill. 

“And then there are things like Child Protective Services,” said Rabhi and reported MLive. “People who have been legal cannabis users, even medical users, it has been used in our CPS laws, because (they) reference our schedule of substances.”

Though Sinclair and NORML of Michigan sued the state in 2019 to have marijuana removed from the Schedule l list, the lawsuit failed and so did a subsequent appeal.

Now it seems that a legislative act is the only way to change cannabis’s antiquated status. Rabhi is optimistic.

“We’ve had several meetings with our Republican colleagues to try and get some movement on this and we’re going to keep that effort going,” Rabhi said. “I think this is not a partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats, both, are cannabis users. It’s not a partisan issue and it shouldn’t be.”

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