By DAVID EGGERT
LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Michigan would tax medical marijuana and regulate the drug in a tiered licensing system similar to alcohol and gambling under legislation passed Wednesday by the House, where advocates said action is necessary due to confusion surrounding the legality of dispensary businesses and non-smokable forms of the drug.
The main bill, approved 95-11 and sent to the Senate, would require a state operating license to grow, process, sell, transport and test marijuana used for medical purposes. “Provisioning centers” that sell the drug to patients or their caregivers would pay a 3 percent tax on their gross retail income, in addition to the 6 percent state sales tax.
Michigan voters legalized medical pot in 2008, but interpreting the law that lets patients grow their own marijuana or buy it from caregivers has led to conflicts in the courts.
The state Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that qualified patients and caregivers cannot transfer marijuana to another patient or anyone else, and dispensaries that facilitate such transactions can be shut down as a public nuisance. Some municipalities have let the dispensaries continue to operate while others have not.
The legislation would create a five-member board to grant or deny operating license applications, assess fees and oversee marijuana facilities. Background checks would be required.
The five license categories would include growers, processors, “secure transporters,” provisioning centers and testing facilities. Tax revenue assessed on the dispensaries would be split among the state and local governments.
Another bill OK’d 96-10 would amend the 2008 statute to clarify that allowable marijuana includes non-smokable forms such as oils, food items and pills. A bill approved 99-7 would create a “seed-to-sale” tracking system in which purchases in excess of legal limits would be flagged.
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