FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 23, 2018            

Contact:
Bernard Jocuns    –   810-245-8900   –   jocunsb@gmail.com             

                                                                                                                                                      

 

LAPEER, Mich. – In a matter of two short weeks, Michigan voters will head to the polls and decide whether to approve Proposal 1, which would allow adult-use marijuana for adult use. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) spent months gathering more than 365,000 signatures, aiming to legalize marijuana possession and consumption for all adults 21 years and older on the state’s November 6 ballot. If approved by voters, Michigan would become the first state in the Midwest with an adult-use cannabis law. A “yes” vote on Prop 1 would legalize adult cannabis use, while a “no” vote would continue to only allow access in Michigan for medical marijuana.

As it stands, Michigan has one of the largest medical marijuana programs in the nation – second only to California in terms of patient numbers. The state’s medical marijuana business is expected to generate $711 million in sales and $21 million in tax revenues. According to Forbes.com, Michigan’s program also received one of the highest grades from Americans for Safe Access.

Before voting, however, it is imperative to be educated regarding the facts, stipulations, benefits and consequences of approving Proposal 1. Firstly, if approved, the measure would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over, and personal possession would be limited to 2.5 ounces, with households allowed up to 10 ounces and 12 plants. Consumers would pay a 10-percent tax that would fund schools, roads, and local governments, generating millions for underfunded areas of Michigan government and organizations.

The benefits of Proposal 1 are myriad. Some of the advantages of approving the measure include:

  • Increased tax revenue: Legalization would create a new revenue stream for schools, transportation, and local governments. States like Washington and Colorado have harvested millions of dollars in additional taxes after legalizing recreational use for adults. Experts estimate Michigan could make $100 million to $200 million each year from marijuana taxation alone.
  • Falling arrest rates: States with adult-use cannabis have seen arrest rates fall for marijuana-related offenses, keeping people out of the penal system and active in the workforce. In Michigan there are approximately 20,2000 marijuana arrests every year.
  • New jobs and businesses: This new industry will serve to expand the private sector, opening the door to more businesses and jobs, thereby bolstering local and state economies.
  • Health benefits: Research indicates there could be many positive health impacts for users, such as alleviating pain, nausea, seizures, and potentially helping to fight insomnia.

Even though more and more voters are in favor of legalizing marijuana for adult use, the momentum and vast support of the initiative doesn’t seem to have made its way into some of the smaller and right-leaning cities throughout the state, including Lapeer. Many local governments like Lapeer, which has a population of just less than 10,000, were less than eager to welcome marijuana-related businesses into their communities, citing a host of reasons.

Some of the concerns expressed by opponents of the initiative include:

  • Health risks: Despite marijuana’s medicinal uses, some believe it can be injurious to users’ health. Those prone to mental illness and adolescents whose brains are still developing seem to run the highest risk of ill effects, and frequent, substantial use can harm users’ lungs.
  • Public safety: There are concerns about road and worker safety. As of now, no tests exist to accurately assess whether or not a person is currently under the influence of marijuana, making it difficult to police the roads for drivers under the influence or identify impaired workers on the job. At the moment, research is muddled as to whether there is any effect at all on transit safety, positive or negative.
  • Hiring difficulties: Michigan employers are worried about finding workers that can pass a drug test. There are already areas of the state struggling with this issue, and some companies fear that easy access to cannabis will only exacerbate the problem.

Lapeer is one of Michigan’s cities in the midst of vetting applications for medical marijuana dispensaries, receiving a total of 17 applications as of April 20, of which six will be chosen. The applicants for those six medical marijuana dispensary licenses have been reviewed on a merit-based system drafted by the city clerk’s office and legal counsel.

Local attorney and marijuana activist Bernard Jocuns is hopeful, if not ecstatic, about the initiative and the potential for a flourishing cannabusiness sector within Lapeer, saying, “This is a really positive thing for the City of Lapeer. People just need to get away from the backwards “Reefer Madness” mindset. The MMFLA will help make this community more vibrant. People will not just be coming to get medical marijuana or at some point legal adult use marijuana but will also be spending money at other local businesses within the city.”

Though dispensaries within the City of Lapeer will be limited to a half dozen, the Lapeer City Commission is not limiting the number of medical marijuana grow facilities that can locate in the city, nor are there restrictions placed on the number of processors, testing facilities or secure transporters that may operate in the city. Also, micro-dispensaries may be joining the conversation as yet another potential revenue stream, after the overwhelming success of Michigan’s beloved microbreweries. The ballot proposal expresses that, among many other businesses, “marijuana micro-businesses” could grow, process, and sell plants on one location, just like a microbrewery processes and sells their product in one spot.

As of now, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and have largely seen the success that was predicted for each state. Meanwhile, however the federal government under Attorney General Jeff Sessions has continued to buckle down on marijuana laws.

Fortunately, under a bipartisan bill currently making its way through Congress, federal law might lose some power when it comes to prosecuting marijuana infractions. The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act would ensure “that each State has the right to determine for itself the best approach to marijuana within its borders.”

The divisive nature of the proposal has brought significant contention, particularly between right- and left-leaning politicians. Gretchen Whitmer, the democratic candidate for governor in Michigan, said, “Michigan has a chance to get marijuana legalization right. I will be a yes vote on legalizing recreational marijuana when it appears on the ballot this November. As governor, I’m going to make sure we regulate marijuana so it doesn’t get into the hands of our kids and tax it so the money goes to fixing our roads and our broken education system.”

On the other side of the aisle, the republican candidate for governor, Bill Schuette, said in a recent interview, “… From my perspective, we don’t need to put more drugs in the hands of children…so I’m voting no on that.”

Jocuns, who is a staunch advocate for the proposal, concluded his thoughts on the matter clearly and succinctly, saying, “People are just going to have to get over this! The reality is that marijuana is here to stay and it’s really not a big deal. Most of the people that are complaining about it have absolutely no education on the issue and are basing these misperceived notions on how they were raised. It is clear that these myths have been de-bunked, and it’s time to move into the 21st century. And this will certainly help make the community a lot more progressive and more inviting.”

Jocuns further stated in conclusion: “It is time to stop the war on drugs! It is time to stop the war on people! Join me on November 6 and vote yes on Proposal 1”!