State Bar Marijuana Law Section issues public policy position on Proposal 18-1

The Marijuana Law Section (MLS) is a voluntary membership section of the State Bar of Michigan with 695 members. The MLS is not the State Bar of Michigan and the position expressed [here] is that of the MLS only and not the State Bar of Michigan. To date, the State Bar does not have a position on this item.

The MLS has a public policy decision-making body with 12 members. On Sept. 27, the Section adopted its position after a discussion and vote at a scheduled meeting. Eight members voted in favor of the Section’s position on Ballot Proposal 18-1, one member voted against, one member abstained, and two members did not vote. The statement:

The State Bar of Michigan Marihuana Law Section (“MLS”) is comprised of 695 attorneys whose law practices involve some aspect of marijuana law. The membership broadly represents many different areas of law practice, including defense lawyers, prosecuting attorneys, business lawyers, and many other specialties. The MLS supports Proposition 1, the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (“MRTMA”) because, like prohibition of alcohol, the prohibition of marijuana has failed to stop [its] use, enriched criminal organizations, and made criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens.

The enforcement of marijuana prohibition disproportionately impacts minorities, with African American men found to be three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white men. More than 20,000 people are arrested for marijuana law violations in Michigan every year, which wastes millions in tax dollars that otherwise could be spent on more important law enforcement priorities like stopping violent crime and combating the opiate epidemic.

MRTMA would legalize marijuana possession and consumption for adults 21 years and older, and would authorize Michigan cities, townships and villages to regulate the operation of marijuana businesses within their jurisdictions or to ban them entirely. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will license and regulate the commercial production and distribution of marijuana similar to the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act that was adopted in 2016 with bipartisan support. MRTMA would also impose a ten percent retail tax on marijuana sales that would be dedicated to fund Michigan roads and infrastructure, public schools and local governments. It is estimated that Michigan could generate between $100 and $200 million in new tax revenue each year from retail marijuana sales.

The MLS has concluded that the regulation and taxation of marijuana is the most effective means to reduce the black market and accomplish the objectives outlined above. We support the ballot proposal to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for cultivation and consumption for adults 21 years of age and older, and encourage voters in the state of Michigan to support this initiative on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2018.

Respectfully yours,
Marijuana Law Section
By: Robert A. Hendricks, Chair