Exciting Times

i Feb 9th No Comments by

Rick Thompson
Board Member
Michigan NORML


by Rick Thompson, Board Member, Michigan NORML

We live in exciting times. Change is happening all around us, and progress is taking place in areas where marijuana law reform advocates have worked for decades.

Despite federal rumblings of a return to prohibitionist dogma, states continue to charge forward with their own efforts. Vermont legalized the adult use of cannabis by a vote of their legislature, a first for that methodology in the USA. Efforts continue on a national level to correct the Veteran’s Administration policy of willful blindness toward the benefits of cannabis use. Congresspersons are sponsoring legislation to champion the cause at a pace never-before seen.

Consider Michigan as a microcosm of the American scene.

The Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) continues to move forward without heed to Jeff Sessions and his upset stomach over states rights. More cities are opting in to the brand-new business program of cultivating and distributing cannabis in Michigan to the 300,000 state-registered patients. Legislators are sponsoring bills aimed at correcting the evils of the Drug War, including the most un-American practice of civil asset forfeiture.

In the streets we are winning the war of information. Polling data suggests that legalization of cannabis for adults enjoys a near-60% level of approval from the citizenry. Citizens in Detroit voted in favor of a pair of proposals last November which corrected some issues with their medical marijuana distribution licensing policy. Any meeting of any city council anywhere in the state is attended by vocal supporters of medical or recreational programs for cannabis. The fear of retribution for saying pro-marijuana things has faded.

Our candidates are the most pro-cannabis group of potential leaders we have seen since cannabis prohibition put a choke hold on America. All the major Democrats are supporting cannabis law reform, some to a greater degree and some merely because it is expected of them (and we know who you fakers are). Republicans seeking the Governorship and the Attorney General’s spot in Michigan have come out in support of the medical marijuana program. A few even speak positively about the possibility of a legalized adult use program in the Great Lakes State.

Our organizations have led the charge toward this new common understanding about the benign nature of cannabis use. Michigan NORML is the state’s oldest and longest-running cannabis rights advocacy group, and it is led by some of the state’s most storied advocates. Former groups including the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers, The Human Solution, NPRA, and the short-lived Michigan chapter of Americans for Safe Access all played a role in the evolution of thought in the state, but none are active in a real sense any more. Legalization groups Repeal Today (2012), MILegalize 2016 and MILegalize 2018 have all helped normalize the concept of an adult use program.

Challenges are still there. Chameleon politicians are waiting to be elected before showing their true colors. National interests will meddle in our election process to prevent the MILegalize/CRMLA 2018 ballot proposal from being approved for the ballot and being approved by the voters. Some communities are still not on board with the medical marijuana business environment created by the legislature. Some law enforcement officials are still living in a 1985 mind frame. There is work to be done.

Be a part of the change. Join us.

Asset forfeiture victims needed for House testimony

i Jan 30th 2 Comments by

On Tuesday, February 6, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on HB 4158, a bill that would require a criminal conviction before members of law enforcement could seize, keep and/or liquidate property siezed in connection with an alleged crime.

I’ve been in contact with the sponsor of this bill, Rep. Peter Lucido, and he is seeking people who have had their property seized by overzealous members of law enforcement. He would especially like to hear from people who have had assets forfeited and who were never charged with any crime!

Rep. Lucido’s bill bans seizures where the victim was never charged with any crime and forces cops and prosecutors to obtain a conviction before they can keep a person’s possessions.

If you have been an asset forfeiture victim and you would like to tell our legislators your story, please contact me at bradforrester@minorml.org, or drop a comment below.

Thanks folks, and stay safe!!!

Michigan NORML responds to Treasury Bulletin

i Jan 26th No Comments by

Today, Michigan NORML sent a letter to all 110 members of the Michigan House of Representatives, and all 38 members of the Michigan Senate, expressing our concerns with the policy change outlined in the Department of Treasury Revenue Administrative Bulletin 2018-2. This new policy is a 180 degree turn from the policy issued 10 years ago by then Director of the Treasury, Glenn R. White, a document that has provided fair and equitable tax guidance to patients and caregivers.

Here are copies of the letter we sent today, and a copy of the past and current policy documents issued by the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Our Letter to Legislators

April 2011 Treasury Letter to James Campbell

January 2018 Revenue Administrative Bulletin 2018-2

Michigan Department of Treasury Issues New Tax Policy

i Jan 25th No Comments by

As some of you may be aware by now, last Thursday, January 18, 2018, the Michigan Department of Treasury quietly issued a new policy directive stating that all transactions between a patient and the caregiver he or she is connected to through the MMMP registry, are subject to 6% Use Tax to be paid by the patient! That report is real and several Michigan NORML board members are aggressively seeking to rectify this horrifying change of policy.

First, we have coined this new tax, the PATIENT TAX, because it only applies to patients and we believe that terminology will resonate with the public. We are working with a large media outlet to produce an Op-Ed piece to help publicize this issue. We have reached out to our national partners for consultation and assistance, and we are steadfastly engaging legislators demanding that they act to correct this travesty.

Here’s what we know and how it could impact patients and caregivers

Is there is a new tax policy in place that may impact patients in 2018?
YES. On January 18, 2018, the Michigan Department of Treasury issued Revenue Administrative Bulletin 2018-2. (document attached) That document outlines new tax policy for cannabis businesses, patients and caregivers. One of the conclusions on this report states;
…a qualifying patient that receives marihuana from a primary caregiver is liable for use tax at a rate of 6% of the “purchase price” of the marihuana. Use tax should be remitted and reported annually on the qualifying patient’s Michigan Individual Income Tax Return (Form MI-1040).
They make their intent clear by providing this example;
Example 2. Carrie is a caregiver under the MMMA. Carrie provides marihuana in exchange for $100. Carrie is not liable for sales tax on the $100 since sales by caregivers under the MMMA are a non-taxable service. However, Paul is liable for use tax based on the purchase price of the marihuana. Paul should report and remit $6 in use tax for the use and consumption of this property on line 23 of his Michigan Individual Income Tax Return (MI-1040).
Will this change effect my 2017 income tax returns?
NO. This administrative change is not retroactive.
Will I have to pay 6% use tax on purchases from my caregiver this year?
MAYBE. This change is so new, nobody knows with any certainty exactly what it means just yet, but if this policy remains in place, then yes, patients would be required to remit a 6% use tax to the State when they file their annual income tax returns.
Will this change impact caregivers?
NO. Not directly according to this bulletin that also addresses a caregiver’s tax obligation. It states;
A registered primary caregiver under the MMMA “may receive compensation for costs associated with assisting a registered qualifying patient in the medical use of marihuana. Any such compensation does not constitute the sale of controlled substances.” Therefore, primary caregiver provision of marihuana and marihuana derived products in compliance with the MMMA is a non-taxable service and not subject to sales or use tax.

Please refer to the example above where Paul is a patient and Carrie is a caregiver.

You probably have more questions, but at this point, any answer we give would be purely speculation. Please be patient and be prepared to act when we issue an action alert.

Just so you know, we have offered a specific legislative solution to legislators who care about our issue and who are just as appalled by this travesty as we are. We are confident they will ultimately understand the urgent need to act and correct this gross miscarriage of tax authority. We are also discussing legal strategies in case this ends up going that far, but whatever happens, we won’t surrender on this issue and we’re going to need everybody’s help when the time to act arrives! Please be ready!

Brad Forrester
Michigan NORML Director of Social Media