What a joy it is to finally be able to write this article after eight long years. Michigan’s legislature has finished what the voters of Michigan started, and intended, in November 2008—a system for the distribution of and access to safe medical cannabis—and fix what the voters never intended to be broken—the protection of non-smokable forms of medical cannabis.
Because one version or another of this bill package has been floating around the Capitol for six years, let us first be reminded of what these bills do, and what they do not. They do protect non-smokable forms of medical cannabis. They do create a state-licensed and regulated commercial industry separate from the caregiver-patient system in which businesses that serve the Michigan patient population can now legally open and operate. They do not get rid of caregivers, or the caregiver-patient system. Caregivers and patients can keep lawfully doing what they are currently able to lawfully do.
Since the introduction of this bill package in March 2015, these bills, and in particular HB-4209, has had its vocal critics on both ends of the cannabis spectrum, and the perpetually whiny will continue to do what they do best and advance their world-ending scenarios, but I would urge you to concentrate instead on the possibilities that this new law presents for all of Michigan.
“Since the introduction of this bill package in March 2015, these bills, and in particular HB-4209, has had its vocal critics on both ends of the cannabis spectrum, and the perpetually whiny will continue to do what they do best and advance their world-ending scenarios, but I would urge you to concentrate instead on the possibilities that this new law presents for all of Michigan.”
Access to safe, lab-tested medical cannabis in a neutral, commercial location for patients and their families all over Michigan, not just in small quasi-protected pockets. Access to business opportunities both big and small for Michigan residents and small business owners anxious to have own a business and enjoy financial independence. Access to “education by osmosis,” as I like to call it, for the general public who may not have had the opportunity to walk into a dispensary and learn about the medical benefits of cannabis.
Growth for Michigan residents who do not have access to much capital, but can now make a business of selling seeds and clones to commercial grow facilities, or get a high-paying job as a commercial grower or plant manager in the industry—an industry where testing positive for cannabis won’t get you canned. Economic growth for communities still climbing out of the hole made by the recession, from taxes on commercial property tripling in value and the collateral economic growth in service businesses that comes with any new industry. Economic growth for a state with a depleted manufacturing base in serious need of new agricultural sector growth.
In a state that suffered 1,500 deaths from opioid overdoses last year alone, won’t it be nice to offer Michigan residents a healthy, non-addictive alternative to destructive and dangerous pharmaceuticals in the form of this awesome plant? Isn’t it fantastic that the brave parents who have been forced to choose between the health of their children and being labeled felons can finally have the peace of being allowed to care for their kids in the way that is best for their families?
Like all new laws, these are not perfect, and there is much more work to be done to shape cannabis’ place in Michigan’s future. Now, we have a foundation from which to grow, and this time when we roll up our sleeves, it won’t be for handcuffs.