Folly to guess how pot will fare in lame duck
“Up in Smoke” was a 1978 comedy featuring Cheech and Chong that became a cult favorite of many recreational marijuana users over the years.
Today in Michigan, proponents of the recently approved recreational marijuana initiative aren’t happy, and probably wonder if next week’s implementation of that proposal isn’t itself “up in smoke.” Their angst stems from one of the Legislature’s leaders having introduced legislation that, were it to be approved, would narrow the extent of the newfound freedoms that the proposal afforded.
Questions surrounding the proposal’s implementation are just the latest in a crazy week of twists and turns at the State Capitol. Indeed, the Legislature is holding its lame-duck session and the quacking coming from its chambers can be heard all the way Up North.
Everything from minimum wage to Enbridge’s Line 5 through the Straits of Mackinac have been discussed.
Some issues, like tipping fees at landfills, have basically kept a low profile, while others, like proposals to raise the state’s gas tax, have come under more scrutiny.
Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof added a little extra drama to the proceedings on Thursday, when he introduced for consideration Senate Bill 1243, which not only would alter the tax collection from marijuana sales in the state, but also would drastically change provisions of Proposal 1 affecting home cultivation of marijuana plants.
Simply put, Meekhof doesn’t want to see home-grown pot plants across Michigan, opting instead for more commercial growers who would have to come under very strict state rules and regulations.
The timing of the bill was interesting, as it was exactly one week prior to the use of recreational marijuana becoming legal in the state. Come next week in Michigan, it becomes legal to smoke a marijuana cigarette in the privacy of your home if you are 21 or older.
However, doing so still will violate federal statutes — though enforcement efforts won’t be a priority in the state.
While the truth of the matter is that Proposal 1 received overwhelming approval from state voters last month, since then, municipality after municipality have either banned commercial sales, or have the question of allowing commercial sales before their governing bodies for discussion. It is that governmental response since the election regarding marijuana sales that gives Meekhof’s bill more relevancy.
Lame duck can be a dangerous time. Bills have a way of appearing and disappearing at the drop of a hat, and the way a session ends one day will more than likely change the next. The old adage that if “you snooze, you lose” is definitely appropriate.
Thus, I venture no guess as to how this is going to play itself out in the days ahead.
The only guarantee I offer is this: Hold onto your seat, as lame duck will offer residents more twists and turns than the very best roller coaster ride at Cedar Point.
Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.