[Editor’s Note: These potential recreational marijuana law changes got shot down in flames. The more rational Republicans saw this as it was; A power play to abuse the voters in Michigan who voted a law into effect.]
LANSING – Marijuana enthusiasts will be able to grow pot at home after all as the state Senate failed on Thursday to muster a supermajority vote to make changes to the recreational marijuana ballot proposal voters approved in the Nov. 6 election.
The biggest change in the bill proposed by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-Grand Haven, would have dropped the provision that would allow people to grow 12 plants at home for personal use.
Meekhof said he wanted to prevent a flood of marijuana into neighborhoods by people growing their own pot, but by 8:30 p.m. Thursday, it became clear that he didn’t have the three-quarters supermajority vote necessary to make changes to the ballot proposal.
“I’m very disappointed. I knew it would be a heavy lift,” he said. “What we’re going to be allowing to happen is going to make our society less safe.” Under legislative rules, Thursday was the last day that the bill could be considered in the Senate in order to comply with a five-day rule before it could be considered in the state House of Representatives. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year next week before the five days expires.
Meekhof’s efforts to rally the 29 votes needed to move the changes fell short. He didn’t have the support of all 26 Republicans in the Senate and Democrats were unwilling to challenge the proposal that passed by a 56-44 percent margin on Nov. 6. In addition to a ban on homegrown pot, Meekhof also wanted to lower the 10-percent excise tax rate to match the 3-percent tax on medical marijuana. But the lower tax was also expected to serve as a disincentive for communities to allow marijuana businesses into their towns because the tax revenues would be low.
The marijuana legalization law, which into effect on Dec. 6, prohibits home growers from selling their products, although they can give it away. Legal weed won’t be commercially available until the state develops the rules and regulations that will govern the recreational market and begins awarding licenses in early 2020. As a result, the home grow option was an important one for the people who spearheaded the campaign to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. Meekhof also wanted to shift how the tax revenue was distributed, shifting money that was supposed to go to schools, roads and communities that allow marijuana businesses to instead give those tax dollars to law enforcement and the communities. The chances of passing the changes to the approved ballot proposals, however, were always slim in this lame duck session. Because the two proposals were passed by the voters, the Legislature needs to muster a supermajority — three-quarters votes — in both the House of Representatives and Senate. Republicans hold a 27-11 super majority in the Senate, but only a 63-47 edge in the House. They would need 29 votes in the Senate and 83 votes in the House to pass the changes to the marijuana law. “The state has said they’re in support of recreational marijuana, but this part (the home grow provisions) is something they wish they would have done better,” Meekhof said. Before giving up on his bill, Meekhof said he was hoping for some “harmonic convergence” with members in the House of Representatives. But it didn’t come to pass.
The marijuana legalization includes a provision that gives the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs the authority to regulate and license marijuana businesses. Meekhof’s proposal changes that so that a politically appointed licensing board — similar to how the medical marijuana industry is regulated — also has the authority over licensing businesses in the recreational marijuana industry.
Original Article: Michigan bill to ban growing marijuana at home fails