On Nov. 4, 2008, almost 15 years ago, the medical use of cannabis in Michigan was legalized with the passage of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. It was a voter-initiated ballot measure, otherwise known as an indirect-initiated state statute. Although it faced opposition from Republicans and law enforcement officials, it was ultimately approved and made Michigan the 13th state to legalize the use of medical cannabis.
The measure legalized the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for patients with certain medical conditions and the approval of a physician. It allowed patients or their caregivers, someone who is legally designated to supply cannabis to an individual or patient for medical purposes, to cultivate up to 12 cannabis plants and care for up to five qualified patients. The caregiver program allowed adults who were housebound or suffered from severe illnesses to access the medicine they needed.
A decade later, in 2018, Michigan legalized recreational cannabis for adults ages 21 and up with the passage of another voter-initiated ballot measure.
“It’s legal now, but it can be taken away at any time with a three-fourths House agreement or amendment,” said Amie Carter, one of the founders of Michigan Weedsters, an advocacy group that helps connect and protect medical cannabis patients and caregivers in Michigan. The group is hosting an event at the state Capitol later this month to unite cannabis enthusiasts and raise awareness about the current legality of cannabis in Michigan.
The Michigan Grown Harvest Rally will run from “high” noon to 4:20 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Capitol. The free event will feature a variety of food trucks, live entertainment and more than 40 vendors from across the state, plus a lineup of speakers covering topics such as social equity, cannabis testing, worker relations, cannabis-related convictions, criminal record expungement and more. Democratic state Rep. Jimmie Wilson Jr. and Dr. Bridget Cole Williams, a family physician and medical cannabis specialist from Detroit, are two of the slated speakers. If time allows, an open-mic forum will allow attendees to voice their concerns over ever-changing cannabis policies.
Michigan Weedsters will also host its own cannabis competition leading up to the Harvest Rally. Ten cannabis advocates will serve as judges who will blindly test dozens of unlabeled and unbranded products from six different categories: flower, edibles, pre-rolls, infused pre-rolls, solventless concentrates and solvent concentrates. Entries are due by Sept. 24, and the winners will be announced during the rally. To learn more about the competition, visit world3judges.com/Rally.php.
“We have seen lawmakers and partners of big weed corporations try to introduce laws to minimize plant counts and the number of patients caregivers can have. Many of them are infringing on freedoms and rights and saying it’s a ‘safety’ concern,” Carter said. She was referring to the Michigan Cannabis Safety Act, a series of House bills approved in 2021 that tightened rules for caregivers relating to plant allowances, product testing and where medical cannabis can be grown. Medical caregivers and cannabis activists around the state have expressed concerns that, even if caregivers apply for a special medical grower license, the rules make it immensely difficult to continue with only a handful of patients. These individuals, whom many credit as the leaders of Michigan’s grassroots efforts to legalize medical and recreational cannabis, are being pushed out by Big Cannabis.
Carter believes Michigan Weedsters can create an alliance between Michigan cannabis businesses, patients and caregivers to stand up against corporations and policy changes through events like the upcoming rally. The organization is also working to set up a new publication called Grassroots Movement to help build its army of cannabis advocates. It’s still in production, but when it’s ready, it will be delivered to 300 locations around Michigan. It will contain suggestions of where to shop, from dispensaries to grow supply stores, plus a map of Michigan with a listing of businesses that support Michigan-grown cannabis.
To learn more about Michigan Weedsters and the upcoming Michigan Grown Harvest Rally, visit michiganweedsters.com. To view the list of rally vendors as they’re announced, follow the organization at instagram.com/michiganweedsters3.0 or facebook.com/michiganweedsters.
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