Marijuana advocates strolling the grounds at the High Times Cannabis Cup over the weekend at Auto City Speedway in Vienna Township were optimistic voters in the state would approve legalization later this year.
But their optimism was guarded regarding the unknown of what legalization would look like in the end after state legislators declined to take up the issue last week that will now go on the ballot during the November general election.
“I think it would pass,” said Antonio Pritchett, 26, a photographer from Flint. “I’m more worried about what the government would do if it does end up passing. I know pricing is going to go up for one.”
He sees the potential for taxes on the product with additional government regulations and corporations getting involved in the trade, pushing aside caretakers.
The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act would, in part, create a 10 percent excise sales tax and allow for those 21 and over to possess two-and-one-half ounces of marijuana at home and grow up to 12 plants.
Caretakers may currently grow a limited amount of plants for a certain number of patients following approval by voters of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act in 2008.
But even with the passage of the medical act, Saginaw resident David Chesney said people have still been arrested and jailed for violations with several “gray areas” existing in the law and the state spending money on prosecutions rather than gaining revenue like Colorado where marijuana is legal.
“To see that whole thing wrapped up and say it’s going to be over in November…I’d like to think it would help, but there’s still a lot of things that are going to happen up until then,” said Chesney, 70, wearing a hat featuring marijuana leaves and the words “Legalize Weed” across the front.
Social media sensation Dabbing Granny came to the event from Colorado, taking photos with fans walking up to her from the crowd, and saw a potential for change in events such as the Cannabis Cup where medical marijuana would potentially no longer be sold.
“In Colorado, we go seed to sale, so it is tracked,” she said. “Unfortunately, with legalization, you give up a lot of things like a festival like this.”
She told people to keep an eye on potential new regulations, including meeting places where people can meet up to smoke marijuana.
“We should have a place we want to gather and consume responsibly just like anyone drinking alcohol,” she added.
Pritchett thought legalization could be a positive thing for Flint.
“It’d be good as far as bringing business,” he commented, pointing to the area near the speedway that’s seen an uptick in marijuana-related facilities in the years since the Cannabis Cup event began at the Vienna Township location in 2014. “Flint is a place that needs businesses and there’s a lot of people that use marijuana.”
Pritchett also saw the potential for the state to grow into a tourist destination for marijuana advocates.
“There would be people coming in from all over because they wouldn’t have to have certain steps to smoke marijuana,” he said. “There are people, a lot of them they have a fear of using it. Michigan could become a safe haven to where they can relax and enjoy themselves.”