Board Member Blogs

Repeal the 6% Patient Tax!

i Feb 10th 3 Comments by

Michigan NORML
Board Member
Brad Forrester

 

As many of you know by now, on January 18, 2018, the Michigan Department of Treasury issued REVENUE ADMINISTRATIVE BULLETIN 2018-2. This document spells out the State’s tax policy regarding new commercial cannabis businesses, patients and caregivers.

Among the conclusions Treasury officials reached and published in that document was the determination by the Department that the implementation of a 6% use tax applied to the price patients pay their caregivers for medical cannabis products was the proper policy. Below is the rationale the Department used to justify this new PATIENT TAX.

The GSTA and UTA exempt the “sale of drugs for human use that can only be legally
dispensed by prescription.” However, this exemption does not apply to the sale, use,
storage, or consumption of marihuana or marihuana-derived products because at the time
of the sale they are not dispensed pursuant to a prescription. Rather, a qualifying patient
presents a registry identification card indicating that a physician has certified that the
patient has a debilitating medical condition.

Essentially, the Treasury Department is saying that because medical cannabis is “recommended” and not “prescribed”, transfers between patients and caregivers are subject to a 6% use tax to be paid by the purchasing patient. They expect patients to add up all their purchases during the course of the year, multiply the total amount they paid their caregiver by 6%, and claim that total on your annual state income tax return.

Well that’s all fine and dandy for the state, but it sucks for patients! And did you even know about this change? Probably not. The Treasury Department didn’t send any announcement of this policy change to patients. The State’s Licensing And Regulatory Affairs (LARA) and the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (BMMR) failed to issue any new tax policy notification to patients. How were the 300,000 patients who participate in the program supposed to find out about this new tax policy?

There are a lot of questions for policy makers in this state regarding the creation and implementation of this new 6% PATIENT TAX, sadly they don’t feel the need to respond to patient questions. So to make sure that Michigan’s medical cannabis patients are heard on this issue, we have created an email campaign that will assist patients with sending an email to their state legislators and the Director of the Treasury about this important issue.

Next Monday, February 12, 2018, Michigan NORML will begin a campaign to REPEAL THE 6% PATIENT TAX, and we could sure use your help! The only way our legislators will even consider changing this policy is if we, patients and caregivers, flood their offices with calls and emails. Watch for our ACTION ALERTS about this issue and please take 5 minutes to send emails to your legislators and Treasury Director Nick Khouri. We can provide the tools to help you, but it’s really important now that you start helping yourself now. Please send the emails and make the calls, otherwise good people will face tax evasion charges because of this predatory tax policy.


Exciting Times

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!!!


CRMLA petition moves forward

i Jan 28th 1 Comment by

On Friday, January 26, 2018, the Secretary of State issued the statement below with regard to the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. This statement indicates that an initial review of our petition forms and signatures has passed muster and will be permitted to continue. This statement also provides that, “the deadline to submit challenges to this petition will elapse at 5:00 p.m. on February 9, 2018”.

What that means is, the proposal looks good so far, the Secretary of State has reviewed some of our forms and signatures, and now our opponents have until February 9, 2018, to challenge our proposal in court. That’s how the process works.

We don’t have any reliable information that any specific person or group plans to challenge our petition in court, but it wouldn’t be surprising. The Michigan Responsibility Council, which calls itself “Michigan’s premier cannabis association committed to educating, promoting and advancing the study of legitimate use of cannabis health care”, is funding an opposition group called The Committee to Keep Pot Out of Neighborhoods and Schools, and Scott Greenlee, President of Healthy and Productive Michigan, who is quoted in Metro Times as saying, “If an individual were on a street having one marijuana cigarette, those folks are just not arrested.” You can read more about Greenlee’s group here.

I don’t know if these people are naive or just plain mean-spirited, but they are wrong with their alternative-facts, they are wrong morally, but they have access to money and we shouldn’t underestimate what they might be capable of doing.

Here is the original pdf document.


January 26, 2018

An initiative petition proposing to authorize the personal possession and use of marihuana by individuals aged 21 years and older and control the commercial production and distribution of marihuana, was filed with the Secretary of State on November 20, 2017 by the Coalition to Regulate Marihuana Like Alcohol.

The Board of State Canvassers has established a uniform deadline for challenging signatures sampled from an initiative, constitutional amendment or referendum petition to elapse at 5:00 p.m. on the 10th business day after copies of the sampled signatures are made available to the public. (See minutes of November 8, 2013 meeting of the Board of State Canvassers.)

Please be advised that copies of the signatures sampled from this initiative petition were made available for release to the public on January 25, 2018. Therefore, the deadline to submit challenges to this petition will elapse at 5:00 p.m. on February 9, 2018.

Please contact the Bureau of Elections at (517) 373-2540 if you wish to purchase a copy of the sampled signatures for the petition.


Meet Joesef White

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Michigan NORML responds to Treasury Bulletin

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