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VGIP - Return of the Empire - July 2019

Written By: Ben Horner

The Vote Green Initiative Project (VGIP) was started as an education program to promote being active in the election process.  In the years past, dozens of meetings were held around the state to educate and advocate for individual cannabis rights, safe access to medical marijuana, as well as local petition drives. Thousands of iconic Vote Green tee shirts were distributed to eager participants to wear as a badge of honor.

Many cities around the State used the VGIP platform to assemble petition teams, led by the Godfather of cannabis law, Tim Beck of the Safer Michigan Coalition. Several petition styles were drafted, to tackle the nuances of each municipality. Sometimes amending a cities code to remove penalties was the simplest way to produce a victory. Chuck Ream used a different technique in Ypsilanti called Lowest Law Enforcement Priority (LLEP), which used money spent and annual reports to curb marijuana prosecutions.  Grand Rapids, working independently took a play from Ann Arbor and made possession a small fine, to decriminalize pot to a certain degree.

These small victories in Detroit, Ypsilanti, Flint, Ferndale, Grand Rapids, Port Huron, Saginaw, and several others, demonstrated solid support for legalization. Thus, a statewide campaign was started and has now come to fruition. For many this is a lifetime achievement culminated by years of hard work in the face of reefer madness, but is the fight over? 

The VGIP has a process of hosting educational meetings to educate folks about this petitioning strategy and getting involved in the politics of cannabis law reform. Now that we have achieved legalization, the political machine in Lansing is swinging its pendulum legal correction. This happens every time a people’s initiative is passed that favors citizen’s rights over the powers of the legislators. 

Stoned Driving Limits:

State senator Betty Jean Alexander has proposed a new “stoned driving” law, SB 347, to amend the Michigan vehicle code that would set that level at 5 ng/ml for active THC in a driver’s blood system. Although a recent Michigan advisory opinion issued suggests fundamental flaws in establishing a per se limit, Alexander doesn’t take heed.

New Labeling Requirements:

Representative Thomas Albert introduced House bill HB 4126, which would require licensed cannabis products to say the following:
“Use by pregnant or breastfeeding women, or by women planning to become pregnant, may result in fetal injury, preterm birth, low birth weight, or developmental problems for the child.”

Marijuana activists question the science referenced in support of this bill.

Not in My Park:

Introduced by Representative Mike Mueller, House bill HB 4963 would add legal marijuana to the list of banned substances in parks and recreational facilities in Michigan. Alcohol is not allowed in state parks as well as controlled substances. 

Lansing has till the end of the year to pass legislation to impact the regulations for the adult use of marijuana under the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.  Several more related clean up bills are anticipated to enter the mix. The VGIP will work to keep citizens informed of these bills and encourage participation in the legislative process.

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