The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has officially submitted ballot language to the State of Michigan that would legalize consumption and possession of marijuana for adults 21 and over in Michigan. This language is the result of the hard work of grassroots activists and key organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU of Michigan, MILegalize, National Patient Rights Association, Michigan NORMLlawyers representing the Marijuana Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, Michigan Cannabis Coalition, and others who have made valuable contributions to developing this ballot language.

The questions below are some of the most frequently asked questions that we have heard between our last public draft and this final draft. If you have additional questions about the ballotl anguage, please email us at [email protected].

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol was formed to support a November 2018 ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Michigan and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. Members include citizens, community leaders, businesses, and organizations that recognize marijuana prohibition has failed and believe it is time for Michigan to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy.

The initiative proposes a sensible alternative to Michigan’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition. It positions Michigan as a national leader in the adoption of smart adult-use marijuana laws by allowing adults 21 and older to possess and grow certain amounts ofmarijuana. It will create a state-regulated system of licensed marijuana businesses that will cultivate, process, test, and sell marijuana and marijuana-infused products to adults 21 and older. Our proposal also enacts an excise tax on marijuana at the retail level in addition to the standard state sales tax.

This is a coalition effort. The Marijuana Policy Project played a leading role in organizing the drafting committee, which included the ACLU of Michigan, Drug Policy Alliance, MILegalize, National Patient Rights Association, Michigan NORML, lawyers representing the Marijuana Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, Michigan Cannabis Coalition, and others. It also incorporated input and feedback from the public and many other stakeholder organizations across the state.

The campaign will be made up of a broad coalition of supporters with support from local and national organizations. MPP will play a key role in coordinating the campaign and raising the funds needed to make it successful. MPP is the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization and has a large group of supporters in Michigan, thanks to its role in passing the Michigan medical marijuana initiative in 2008. MPP has a strong track record of supporting successful marijuana initiative campaigns. Most recently, it coordinated the successful campaigns to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada in 2016, and it contributed to the successful campaign in California. It also coordinated the campaigns to pass similar initiatives in Colorado in 2012 and Alaska in 2014.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will be funded by citizens, philanthropists, businesses, and organizations that recognize marijuana prohibition has failed and think it is time for a smarter approach. We hope to receive support from a wide range of small and large donors in Michigan and around the country who believe Michigan can be a national model for sensible marijuana policy reform.

This initiative will allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana outside of their homes. Inside their homes, they will be allowed to possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana, plus whatever they grow legally. Any marijuana beyond 2.5 ounces must be stored under lock and key.

The initiative will allow adults 21 and older to grow up to 12 total marijuana plants in a single residence.  

 

The ballot initiative creates several sensible restrictions on marijuana use and/or possession. Persons under 21 years of age are prohibited from possessing, cultivating, processing, purchasing, and/or selling marijuana products. The initiative does NOT allow marijuana to be used openly and publicly, so it will remain entirely illegal to consume marijuana on the street, on a sidewalk, or in a public park. Driving under the influence of marijuana will also remain illegal. In addition, marijuana establishments will not be allowed to cultivate, process, sell, or display marijuana or marijuana products anywhere that is visible to the public.

Non-commercial, technical violations of the law will result in a civil infraction unless habitual or involving violence. 

No. This initiative expressly prohibits people from operating a vehicle, motorboat, aircraft, ORV, or snowmobile while under the influence of marijuana. It will remain entirely illegal to drive while impaired.

The initiative authorizes the state to grant licenses to six types of marijuana businesses: cultivators, processors, testing facilities, secure transporters, retail stores, and microbusinesses.

By creating a license for marijuana microbusinesses — which will be similar to microbreweries or microdistilleries — this initiative ensures there will always be opportunities for small marijuana businesses in Michigan. Marijuana microbusinesses will be small businesses licensed to cultivate up to 150 marijuana plants and process, package, and sell that marijuana directly to consumers. They cannot sell marijuana or marijuana-infused products produced by other marijuana establishments, and they cannot wholesale their products to other marijuana establishments.

This initiative creates three classes of cultivator licenses: the Class A “microgrower” license will allow for the cultivation of up to 100 marijuana plants; the Class B license will allow for the cultivation of up to 500 plants; and the Class C license will allow for the cultivation of up to 2,000 plants. No one will be allowed to hold more than five grower licenses of any type at the same time through 2023. After that point, the cap will be lifted. In addition, the initiative contains language that provides for strong local control that will allow communities to regulate the types and number of marijuana businesses they want within their jurisdictions.

This initiative creates two licenses that are ideal for small businesses. Current caregivers will be able to transition to Class A grower licenses, which allow for the cultivation of up to 100 plants. In addition, the initiative creates a marijuana microbusiness license. Similar to brewpubs or craft distilleries, microbusinesses will be small businesses licensed to cultivate up to 150 marijuana plants and to process, package, and sell that marijuana directly to consumers. They cannot sell marijuana or marijuana-infused products produced by other marijuana establishments, and they cannot wholesale their products to other marijuana establishments.

 

Nearly every adult-use marijuana law enacted in this country has included some sort of restrictions, usually residency or licensure under a formerly enacted medical marijuana law. CRMLA has included similar language that provides Michigan’s reputable and soon-to-be-licensed businesses already operating in the medical marijuana market access to the first licenses in the adult-use market. The reason: these businesses will have already been vetted by the state, which means we can provide immediate access to the adult-use market for customers.

Microbusiness and microgrower license holders will not be required to be previously licensed 
under the state medical marijuana law, but will be required to be state residents.

Unlike other state adult-use laws, these restrictions will sunset one year after the state begins 
accepting applications. 

 

Retail marijuana sales will be subject to a 10 percent excise tax in addition to Michigan’s regular six percent sales tax. Based on marijuana usage rates in Michigan and the experience of other states that allow adults to use marijuana, we estimate this initiative will generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in new tax revenue for the state.

In addition to covering the costs of regulation, marijuana excise tax revenues will support Michigan’s schools, roads, and local governments. The distribution of tax revenue will include:

 35 percent to the State School Aid Fund for K-12 public education
 35 percent to the Michigan Transportation Fund for the repair and maintenance of roads
and bridges
 15 percent to municipalities where a marijuana business is located
 15 percent to counties where a marijuana business is located

In addition, the taxes will provide $20 million per year for two years to fund FDA-approved research analyzing the benefits of medical marijuana for treating post-traumatic stress disorder and other medical conditions of U.S. Armed Services veterans.
There are two main reasons for the inclusion of language requiring licensed transporters. First is that Michigan’s medical marijuana law requires secure transporters, so this language is consistent with that law and helps avoid confusion.

The second reason to require secure transporters to move large quantities of cannabis is security. Marijuana is a high-value product often paid for in cash, and transporting large volumes of cannabis, cannabis concentrates, and edible products requires reasonable precautions to prevent opportunities for criminals.

Research and data also show this is a critical issue to voters. With the secure transport clause included, we can assure voters that high-value shipments will be handled professionally and safely in their communities. 

 

Like with Michigan’s recently passed 2016 medical marijuana dispensary law, communities will have the ability to regulate marijuana businesses in their communities or to ban them altogether. The initiative also allows local governments to require local licenses and charge local licensing fees. Local governments will have a say in the time, place, and manner in which marijuana businesses can operate and will be able to apply local zoning regulations based on their communities’ needs.

This initiative would allow for the cultivation of industrial hemp, an important agricultural crop that can be used to produce a variety of commercial products, including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed. The U.S. consumer market for hemp products is estimated at nearly $600 million, with the vast majority of hemp being imported from overseas. By passing this initiative, Michigan will become a leader in domestic hemp production and processing, leading to more jobs and prosperity for Michigan.

The myth that marijuana is a “gateway drug” has been thoroughly debunked. In January 2017, the National Academies of Sciences released an exhaustive review of more than 10,000 scientific abstracts that found no substantial evidence of a causal relationship between marijuana use and the use of other drugs. Michigan's current prohibition policy forces adults to purchase marijuana in an illegal market where they may come across other illegal products. Allowing them to purchase marijuana in a regulated market will reduce their exposure to other illegal substances.

Study after study has confirmed that laws making marijuana legal for adults or for people suffering from debilitating conditions has not resulted in increased teen marijuana use. In June 2016, a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry found that the number of teens using marijuana — and the number with problematic use — is falling as more states legalize or decriminalize cannabis. The findings were based on a survey of more than 200,000 youth in all 50 states.
 
Rates of teen use have not increased in Colorado or Washington since they legalized marijuana for adult use in 2012. In February 2017, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that the rate of marijuana use among adults and adolescents “has not changed since legalization either in terms of the number of people using or the frequency of use among users. … Based on the most comprehensive data available, past-month marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is nearly identical to the national average.” In March 2017, the Washington State Department of Health released statewide survey data showing rates of teen use have remained basically unchanged since legalization.
 

All members of the ballot question committee worked hard to find a way to include expungement in the ballot proposal, and polls showed that it was highly popular among voters. Unfortunately, our legal experts, who are some of the top election lawyers in the state, determined that including both expungement and cannabis legalization in a single ballot proposal would not be constitutional. To leave expungement in the language would have left our proposal open to challenge in the courts and threatened to have the entire issue denied a public vote on Election Day 2018.

This proposal does not change the current medical law. Instead, it would give all Michigan citizens the right to cultivate cannabis in addition to the patients' rights already granted under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act of 2008. All rights to act as a caregiver and grow up to 72 plants for up to six patients are retained (in addition, the three percent state tax on medical marijuana is eliminated).

Selling cannabis without a license, or selling cannabis to a minor, would still be criminal and would hold the same harsh penalties as today. At the same time, this initiative will ensure that use and possession, even by minors, is not a cause for law enforcement to ruin the life of a young person. By removing cannabis commerce from the illicit market and placing it behind the counters of reputable and licensed retailers, we will reduce access by adolescents. And as we have seen in Colorado and Washington, the rate of teen use does not increase after legalization. A March 2017 survey conducted by the Washington State Department of Health found that rates of teen use have remained basically unchanged since legalization.

The drafting of the initiative’s language was a collaborative effort that sought to balance putting Michigan at the forefront of cannabis rights with establishing responsible regulations that voters could support. There was much internal discussion between drafting committee members (Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU of Michigan, MILegalize, Michigan Cannabis Coalition, National Patient Rights Association, Michigan NORML, lawyers representing the Marijuana Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, and others). In the end, some of the final changes include changes to the tax structure and allocation, the phasing out of cultivation license caps, and other language that ensures the initiative is protected from legal challenges as much as possible.