Michigan Governor Signs Bill Ending Medical Marijuana License Ban For People With Past Convictions
The governor of Michigan on Thursday signed a bill that makes it so people with marijuana-related felony or misdemeanor convictions on their record are no longer disqualified from obtaining a medical cannabis business license.
There’s an exception for those who were convicted of distributing marijuana to a minor, but overall the legislation is meant to resolve a problem that advocates have identified. Given that people of color are more likely to have been targets of marijuana criminalization in the past, the restrictions on participation in the industry were viewed as discriminatory.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed HB 4295 on Thursday. Beyond eliminating the licensing ban, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Julie Alexander (R), also stipulates that elected officials and employees of federally recognized tribes can obtain a state cannabis license.
Also, regulators “may no longer consider the integrity, moral character, reputation, or personal probity of an applicant in evaluating eligibility for licensure” under the newly enacted law, a press release from the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency says. These restrictions have only applied to medical cannabis operators; the state’s adult-use market does not contained such prohibitions.
The legislation also clarifies that the spouses of people who’ve applied for marijuana operating licenses are eligible to get licensed as well “unless the spouse’s position created a conflict of interest, was within the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA), or a state or federal regulatory body making decisions regarding medical marijuana,” according to the press release.
The law takes effect immediately.
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Sen. Jeff Irwin (D) filed a similar bill in September, but it did not advance. The senator also introduced legislation that month to legalize the possession and cultivation of certain psychedelics.
Also in Michigan, lawmakers recently approved a series of separate bills to enact restrictions on medical cannabis cultivation by caregivers.
Meanwhile, psychedelics reform has also been advancing in the state.
Detroit voters on Tuesday approved a ballot initiative to decriminalize various entheogenic plants and fungi.
In September, the Grant Rapids City Commission adopted a resolution calling for decriminalization of a wide range of psychedelics such as psilocybin and ayahuasca. However, the measure falls short of what activists had hoped, in that it doesn’t actually change any city enforcement practices and merely expresses support for future reforms.
Elsewhere in Michigan, the Ann Arbor City Council has already elected to make enforcement of laws prohibition psychedelics like psilocybin, ayahuasca and DMT among the city’s lowest priorities—and lawmakers recently followed up by declaring September Entheogenic Plants and Fungi Awareness Month.
After Ann Arbor legislators passed that decriminalization resolution last year, the Washtenaw County prosecutor announced that his office will not be pursuing charges over possessing entheogenic plants and fungi, “regardless of the amount at issue.”
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Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.