Michigan Reform: The Not-So-Lazy Days of Summer

Flickr user yooperann

Don’t know about you, but I really love summer in Michigan.
No more putting on eight layers of clothing, a reprieve from rushing the kids
onto a bus and, of course, everything is green. There is nothing we all want
more after a cold, dark Michigan Winter than to spend some time outside in the
hot sun. It is all the more remarkable then that the Michigan legislature has
foregone its Summer vacation and rolled up its sleeves, the House extending its
session through June, and the Senate is working through the entire summer.

Our ailing medical cannabis law is likely not the
legislators’ reason for keeping their boats docked, but it is entirely possible
that cannabis will end up benefitting from Michigan’s “pot hole” problem and we
will see some serious legislative action by summer’s end. House Judiciary
Committee Chair Klint Kesto held a flurry of hearings in May, enduring
decidedly one-dimensional presentations from the prosecuting attorneys and the
Michigan State Police, and taking testimony from a constituency that ran the
gamut from parents of children with devastating illnesses to monopolies
disguised as non-profits. There is no question that Representative Kesto, and
his equal in the Senate, Rick Jones, have their work cut out for them.

It will be virtually impossible to satisfy such a diverse
group of interests, and regulating this deceptively simple plant has
far-reaching legal impact for our state, from health and public safety to budget
and local economy, from municipal zoning and privacy rights to unemployment
benefits. The sheer length of time for which Michigan has lacked a state-level
regulatory structure for safely distributing medical cannabis increases the
pressure to get it right this time, as does the threat of impending
legalization. 

It will never be perfect. For one, our federal elected
representatives must find a way to do what they do least: Making law. Until
cannabis is legal, whether that be through rescheduling or de-scheduling,
banking will continue to be its highest hurdle. Without banking, everything
required to run a business, from contracts to insurance to intellectual
property registration, will continue to be hampered by legal limbo and general
unavailability. Employers will likely never be legally required to hire a
person who uses cannabis recreationally, although if they insist on going down
this road I imagine several of our nation’s coolest and most productive
companies may have to lay off their entire work forces. Parents will always
have to parent, and now a conversation that should have always included
alcohol, cigarettes and cannabis will, well, still have to include
cannabis. 

No, it will never be perfect, and considering how many cooks
are in the Capitol kitchen right now, it is truly anyone’s guess as to what the
medical cannabis law will look like when it is finished; however, I think there
is little doubt that there will finally be a law to look at this year. So
please call and thank you state representative and state senator for canceling
their summer vacations, and while you’re on the phone remind them that medical
cannabis, regulated the right way, will be good for Michigan.

 

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