A bill introduced in the Michigan Senate would prohibit the home cultivation of marijuana as allowed with the passage of Proposal 1 by voters in the Nov. 6 election. Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said on Thursday that he does not want home growers to flood Michigan’s neighborhoods with cannabis.
“People don’t get to make alcohol and serve it in unregulated bars to anyone they want to. Homegrown marijuana is basically unregulated,” Meekhof said. “It should be in some regulated form, so we have consistency and safety. It’s a mind-altering substance like alcohol. It should be somehow controlled.”
Proposal 1, which was adopted with 56 percent of the vote in this month’s midterm elections, permits adults 21 and older to cultivate only 12 plants at a time and prohibits them from selling their harvest. Home growers are permitted to give cannabis to other adults as gifts. Cannabis consumption lounges are permitted by the initiative, but only with approval and special zoning from the local jurisdiction. The new law will go into effect on Dec. 6.
Jeffrey Hank, the director of MiLegalize, a group that campaigned for the passage of Proposal 1, characterized Meekhof’s bill as “lame-duck mischief.”
“He’s really being totalitarian if he thinks Michigan adults can’t grow a plant or two. He just wants to do this to block competition from corporate interests,” Hank said. “People can make their own wine and their own home-brewed beer—they should be able to grow a few plants.”
Bill Unlikely to Pass
Meekhof’s bill appears to have little chance of success. Because Proposal 1 is an initiative statute passed by the voters, changing it requires approval from three-fourths of the members of both houses of the legislature. Meekhof, a Republican, oversees a supermajority of 27-11 in the Senate. But the Republicans’ majority in the House of Representatives is by a margin of 63-47 and Democrats are unlikely to support the measure.
Even some Republicans, including Sen. Rick Jones, may not support Meekhof’s bill.
“I don’t believe in home growing (marijuana) for sale, but I don’t object to growing for personal use,” Jones said.
Josh Hovey is the spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the group behind Proposal 1. He said that banning the home cultivation of cannabis would be a corruption of the democratic process.
“The people in Michigan have already spoken and passed our initiative with more votes than Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer got,” said. “For lawmakers to immediately go against the will of the people is undemocratic and it totally disregards the political process.”
Cannabis Tax Changes Also Proposed
Another bill introduced by Meekhof on Thursday would change the tax provisions in Proposal 1. Under the proposed measure, the tax on cannabis products would be reduced from 10 percent to 3 percent. The bill would also eliminate requirements that cannabis tax revenue be spent on schools and roads in the state.
Hovey also expressed opposition to the cannabis tax bill.
“It’s disrespectful to the political process and it’s disrespectful to the voters of Michigan,” said Hovey. “The people of Michigan have spoken. They knew what they were voting on.”