The cannabis industry is the fastest growing job category in the U.S., with a 445 percent growth rate last year alone (according to ZipRecuiter) and with projected revenues of more than $700 million annually.
Michigan has the second largest medical cannabis market in the country, which means job opportunities for this industry in our state will boom. If Michigan voters say yes on November 6 to the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act – approving recreational marijuana use – revenues easily could surpass $1 billion a year, according to Kathleen Gray’s report in the Detroit Free Press.
Where Will This Money Go?
Thirty-five percent will go to K-12 education, 35 percent for roads, 15 percent to communities that allow marijuana businesses in their communities, and 15 percent to counties where marijuana businesses are located.
The Medical Marijuana System in Michigan Will Stay
Michigan voters approved the Michigan Compassionate Care Initiative in 2008, which legalized medical cannabis use for seriously and terminally ill patients who obtain a physician’s approval. Local communities can opt in or out of the medical marijuana program. Cities that opt in and allow dispensaries to open in their municipality receive one quarter of the revenue from the tax (3 percent) on receipts at those dispensaries. The Flint City Council approved an opt-in ordinance that will allow commercial growing, processing, testing, transporting and provisioning of medical marijuana to legal State of Michigan medical marijuana cardholders.
What Do the People Say?
While some might believe the cannabis industry could bring local governments and law enforcement agencies more challenges, many, including Ben Horner, believe the industry will yield more good than harm. He is owner of Michigan Organic Solutions on Dort Highway in Flint – an alternative and holistic health service that provides a wide variety of cannabis products for medical marijuana patients. Horner initially opened his business because he thought it would be quite lucrative for him. But, soon after opening his dispensary, the former chef realized its real potential, and that’s when he began working with lobbyists and city officials to craft rules and regulations for dispensaries.
“My perspective and focus has changed drastically over the past several years,” he says. “I am part of real social change, truly helping very sick people. I feel good that I am a pioneer in this industry, and will be able to share this legacy with my kids and grandkids. I am helping to effect change that will maintain for generations to come.”
“I AM PART OF REAL SOCIAL CHANGE,
TRULY HELPING VERY SICK PEOPLE.”
– BEN HORNER –
When entering his dispensary, at first glance, customers may mistake it for a candy store. Dozens of jars contain a variety of cannabis products designed for different medical conditions.
“My dispensary is supplied by local growers,” Horner notes. “There are so many different products that help people in different ways. Some products, for example, are good for treating certain medical conditions, while others are used for chronic pain relief. We have edible as well as topical products and oral oils. Patients with tumors have reported the tumors shrink after a few months of using oral oils.” Horner will vote yes in November to legalize recreational marijuana.
Flint City Council member Santino Guerra also will vote yes. “I encourage people to vote, and I encourage them to vote yes. Marijuana has many medical benefits as opposed to alcohol, and will bring in tax revenue for the state,” he says.
Rich Reed, a local resident and medical marijuana cardholder for the past eight years, is another yes voter. He uses cannabidiol oil to relieve his chronic pain.
“I’ve had three hip surgeries and the pain remains constant,” he says. “Before receiving my medical marijuana card, I visited one doctor who believed marijuana was the first step toward heroin use, the second doctor wanted to give me a limitless supply of Vicodin and finally, I found a doctor who said I was a perfect candidate for medical marijuana.”
Reed purchases cookies with cannabidiol, an extract from a hemp plant. The extract has few, if any, intoxicating properties. Reed is one of about 300,000 medical marijuana patients registered in Michigan.
FACTS ABOUT MEDICAL MARIJUANA
To qualify for a Michigan Medical Marijuana Program Registry Identification card, patients (age 18 and older) must receive a certification from a physician.
Patients pay between $75 and $125 for certification and recertification (every two years). Patients also pay a $60 registry ID card fee.
Marijuana is not a one-size-fits-all solution; there are specific ways to use it for specific conditions. Michigan dispensaries offer an array of cannabis products and accessories – from edibles (hard candies, cookies, brownies, chocolate bars and tetrahydrocannabinol-infused drinks) to oils, ointments and smokable products.
Conditions approved for medical marijuana use in Michigan include specific diagnoses (cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, nailpatella syndrome and Alzheimer’s) and certain severe symptoms and chronic or debilitating conditions (e.g., seizures, severe muscle spasms, chronic pain, severe nausea).
IF MICHIGAN LEGALIZES RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA USE…
…those at least 21 years old will be able to buy, use, sell and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana a day and grow up to 12 plants in their home. They also may possess up to 10 ounces in their home, but anything over 2.5 ounces must be stored and locked up.
…a 10 percent excise tax will be added to marijuana sales in addition to the state’s 6 percent sales tax.
…you will not be able to consume or smoke marijuana in a public place unless a community specifically designates a location that is not accessible to people under the age of 21. Violation of this rule carries a fine of up to $500.
…consuming marijuana is prohibited while operating any vehicle or motorboat. No amount of marijuana in the bloodstream is acceptable if a driver is stopped for impaired driving.
…communities can decide if they will allow marijuana businesses in their towns.
Facts are from the approved ballot language.