Cannabis-infused alcoholic beverages would become illegal under a bill passed by the Michigan legislature Tuesday and is now waiting the signature of Gov. Rick Snyder to become law. The bill was passed in anticipation of the legalization of recreational cannabis in the state at next month’s election.
Under the measure, House Bill No. 4668, all possession of alcoholic beverages that contain marijuana, even solely for personal use, would be prohibited. The only exception to the ban will be for research institutions.
“A person shall not use or offer for use, possess, sell, or offer for sale marihuana-infused beer, wine, mixed wine drink, mixed spirit drink, or spirits. A person that violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor,” the statute reads.
Proponents of the bill say it is necessary in case voters decide to legalize the recreational use of cannabis in the statewide election in November. Opponents fear that alcoholic beverages infused with cannabis will lead to dangerously intoxicated driving and make the state’s roadways unsafe.
Opponents of the measure say it is unnecessary because it is a solution to a problem that does not exist. They note that there is not yet a legal market for alcoholic beverages infused with marijuana. And even if there were, selling the products would still be illegal under federal law.
Josh Hovey is the spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the spearheading Michigan’s cannabis legalization initiative, Proposal 1. He told High Times that his group hasn’t taken a position on House Bill No. 4668 because passing Proposal 1 is their prime objective. But if the initiative passes, he says the coalition will turn to other related issues including infused beverages and the expungement of criminal records for cannabis-related offenses.
House Bill No. 4668 was passed by the Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday by a vote of 101-40. The state Senate voted in favor of the measure in September by a margin of 35-1. Gov. Snyder is expected to sign the legislation.
In a similar move in July, regulators in California ruled that alcoholic beverages infused with cannabis were illegal in the Golden State. Officials also decided that pubs and bars were prohibited from allowing patrons to use their own cannabis products, as well.
The bill was passed before the expected legalization of cannabis by voters who will be voting on the legalization of recreational cannabis for adults. Proposal 1 will appear on the ballot in next month’s general election. Last month, a statewide poll found that 56.2 of voters supported the measure.
If it is successful, Proposal 1 would legalize the recreational use and sale of marijuana and establish a legal framework for the regulation and taxation of the commercial cannabis industry.
In a campaign update from the National Cannabis Industry Association, Hovey said that cannabis legalization has strong support in Michigan.
“Multiple opinion polls have shown that 60 percent of Michigan voters want to end cannabis prohibition and create a legalized and regulated system, so that’s a very strong starting position as we head into the campaign season,” said Hovey. “However, we know we can’t just rely on polls and we know the prohibitionists will continue to spread ‘Reefer Madness’ era misinformation about the initiative.”
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