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News, Politics

Michigan Sets the Stage to Slash Cannabis Convictions

Ashley Priest

by Ashley Priest

November 20, 2020 04:00 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
Michigan Sets the Stage to Slash Cannabis Convictions

Michigan, nicknamed “The Wolverine State”, is next to clear some past cannabis convictions. Apparently, the only convictions being cleared are those that occurred on or after December 6, 2018. The Detroit Free Press was quoted saying that Michigan lawmakers had approved a proposal that would “create a process to streamline expungement of marijuana offenses if the activity that led to the conviction would have been legal under the recreational marijuana law. ”

One of the six bills approved by the Michigan legislature was House Bill 4982, which states, “a person convicted of 1 or more misdemeanor marihuana offenses may apply to set aside the conviction or convictions”, which will streamline the expungement process. It includes a “rebuttable presumption that a conviction for a misdemeanor marihuana offense… was based on activity that would not have been a crime if committed on or after December 6, 2018”, the date in which recreational cannabis was legalized in the state.

Another was House Bill 5120, which would establish that “people aggrieved by a court’s ruling on an application for marijuana expungement can request a hearing or appeal”. Michigan is one of the Great Lakes states following in Illinois’ footsteps when it comes to cannabis reform. Illinois State Governor JB Pritzker issued 11,000 pardons for cannabis convictions on New Year’s Eve, calling it “an end to the 50-year long war on cannabis and a restoration of rights to tens of thousands of Illinoisans”. During a press conference, Michigan’s governor Whitmer told the citizens,

“During my 2018 campaign for governor, I made expungement of marijuana charges one of my key priorities, and I’m so proud today that we can follow through on that goal.” For too long, criminal charges have created barriers to employment, barriers to housing, and others for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders. These bipartisan bills are going to be a game-changer.” She also went on to say, “This is a historic day in Michigan. This is also an opportunity to grow our workforce and expand access to job training and education for so many people.”

What these new proposals lack is justice for those convicted in the past. While some are tasting freedom having previous charges dropped, others like Michael Thompson remain locked up for selling cannabis during the draconian past. This is a lot for the governor to take in but is something she herself should look at as it will affect the more than 10 million people who call Michigan home.

Michigan’s Cannabis Market is Lit

The state of Michigan has an extremely vast and quickly growing cannabis market. Compared to California, Michigan is only a fraction of the size. The population in California as of 2018 was estimated to be at around 39.78 million people. In comparison, Michigan’s population is at around 10 million. That hasn’t stopped Michigan’s cannabis market from hitting projections to match California’s. According to an article in the Detroit Metro Times, Michigan’s cannabis market is on track to hit the 1 billion dollar milestone California achieved back in 2017.

When it comes to cannabis, folks in Michigan love the stuff. Michigan is home to the second-largest medical cannabis market in the United States. California holds the number one spot. Statistical data published by Headset Insights Pulse revealed that Michigan’s medical and recreational cannabis markets in 2020 brought in 313.7 million and 281.2 million, respectively. This data also showed an incredible surge in recreational cannabis sales in the state of Michigan from January of 2020 through August of 2020. The numbers increased by an eye-popping bank-breaking 566% jump, going from 9.8 million dollars to 65.5 million in just eight months.

What’s Up in Detroit

Michigan is setting up the stage to cultivate future generational success in the cannabis sector. Detroit is the largest city in the state. However, Detroit has not yet entered into the recreational cannabis space. The city council is currently discussing a social equity plan before opening the doors to that market. When these doors open, there is no doubt that recreational cannabis sales in Michigan will soar once again. All this information shows us that citizens in the state of Michigan are all about their medical and recreational cannabis. Throughout the cannabis community and culture, all of us know this is the case everywhere, whether it is legal or not. This is what has put so many people in harm’s way for so long.

It seems unfair to live in a free country where 30 million people in one state and 20 million people in another state have legal access to cannabis. Yet, millions of others still face federal and state prosecution and persecution for even simple possession of this misunderstood and widely stigmatized plant. By the leaders in the state of Michigan taking steps to remove past cannabis convictions, they are setting a great example for other state leaders to follow.

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