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September is officially here, which means we are 2 months away from what many of us in Michigan have been patiently, yet eagerly waiting for, the opportunity to vote yes on the Legalization of Cannabis in Michigan!! As excited as we all are for that, and as certain as many of us are that this will pass, I’m going to take this opportunity to remind everyone of our readers, that November is only the beginning, and its not over when the voting is. I’m sure some of you are probably wondering what it is exactly I’m talking about, let me break it down to all those concerned cannabis lovers.

First, lets just take a very quick path down memory lane. In 2008, Michigan voters overwhelmingly supported and passed the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. In the 10 years since, its been smooth sailing for some of Michigan, and nothing but rough waters and raids in other areas. With the gray areas of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act constantly being abused by police to raid, arrest, and confiscate items of value with asset forfeiture, we needed change. Fortunately, not only did we see the problems with the law, many politicians did as well. As more discussions happened, bills were crafted and progress was in motion. Granted many of us think they should’ve been able to promulgate a program and laws regarding provisioning centers much sooner, we finally had a new baby born into Michigan by the name of the MMFLA.

The MMFLA, or the Michigan Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, is what we are dealing with in Michigan today, and will be for at least a couple more years. The MMFLA is the current law that allows applicants to apply for a license in one of 5 areas as long as you get past all the requirements, the 5 areas of course being provisioning centers, processing centers, cultivation facilities, testing facilities, and secure transport companies. Even when you factor in board member Don Bailey’s obvious bias and obstructionism, we’re still heading in the right direction. I’d just like to remind all of you, just because we’re heading in the direction of the finish line, doesn’t mean we’re going to make it there. The MMFLA doesn’t just allow for people to invest and apply for licenses if they are qualified applicants. You can invest and begin the buildouts, but you better make sure the locals are going to approve because your local municipality must opt in before you can even begin to think about launching your dream business in your town. Lets look into that a bit shall we. There are over 100 municipalities that have opted in to the MMFLA. That doesn’t sound to bad, until you put into perspective that there are 276 cities, 257 villages, and 1,240 townships. That’s less that 10% of the state opting in. Another thing I hear a lot is, “Who cares, we’re legalizing in November and none of this will matter, including Bailey and his board”. Those statements are what inspired me to write this article, its not that simple. Legalization is polling solid at 60+ percent approval and 70+ percent recognition. I as well as you, believe this will pass by a solid majority. The problem is, in order for you to truly experience the liberation of this plant and see it as we want, available for sale without miles and miles of travel to do so, your community must not only opt into the MMFLA, they then need to readdress the topic after November and opt into the recreational program as well. Of course you’ll be able to grow no matter where you are, but if things stayed as they are today, less than 10% of Michigan municipalities would be taking advantage of this opportunity.

So when I say there is more to it than voting yes, there really is. As many of you know, I used to own Cloud 45 in Gaylord, MI. We were shut down prior to the MMFLA going into effect. Since then, Gaylord has opted out, ignoring the will of the voters in that community. They not only opted out, the county commissioners of Otsego, where Gaylord is located, made a resolution to stating the people of Otsego are against recreational marijuana. That is so far from the truth. The resolution is included for you to read, lies printed to not only scare the public, but this resolution is being sent around to all the counties in MI trying to get them all to oppose legalization. The reefer madness is alive and strong, they actually claim that marijuana emergency room trips are exceeding those for heroin, link marijuana to suicide, and claim it’s the number one thing teenagers seek treatment for. Crazy right, I thought so too.

So where does that leave us and what is it that we must do to make sure we see this dream become a reality? We continue working together and striving for the results we want to see. Grand Rapids was a hot topic for a while, they didn’t want to opt in, the people got organized and were going to petition for an opt in. They didn’t even need to because Grand Rapids realized what was going to happen, had talks and meetings with the public, and decided to listen to the people and opt in. Gaylord and many communities choose to ignore the people and run the agenda of a few select elected officials. Its not going to work. A provisioning center opened last week in Gaylord, where they opted out, no meds in the building yet. What they do have in the building is the next best thing, a petition for Gaylord residents to sign to get the horrible decision of opting out taken away from the biased officials, and put to the voters in March. Upon gathering enough signatures and getting it to the ballot, it will easily pass in that community. Heres the problem, will Gaylord then opt into recreational next year or just allow medical and give recreational the same problems they have given medical? My guess is the later.

When rec passes, your community must have opted in to the MMFLA to opt into the rec market the following year. The only people able to apply for the first two years are those who have been given a MMFLA license. The BMMR board will definitely be a factor for a while to come. So how do we ensure the Michigan people get what we want after legalization? We don’t stop showing up to the ballot boxes. We stay informed, have discussions with our local officials, and see how they feel and how they will vote. If your community opts out, or if your community opts in to the MMFLA, but not into the RMLA, (regulate marihuana like alcohol) get out and vote for the challenger. If there isn’t a challenger, follow my former business partner from Cloud 45’s example, and run yourself. Al Witt ran and won a spot on city council. If they won’t listen to your voice, become the voice.


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