Michigan Primary Election Bodes Poorly For Marijuana Community


Michigan’s primary election was held Tuesday, August 8, and in two large cities pro-marijuana candidates were not advanced to the November election.

In Lansing’s Mayoral race, two candidates have secured positions on the November ballot: current State Representative Andy Schor (68% of the vote) and current Council member Judi Brown Clarke (23% of vote gained), per WLNS.

Pro-cannabis candidate Danny Trevino finished third in the Mayoral contest, with 4% of the popular vote in the primary election. Lansing’s election comes at a time where the City Council struggles to enact an ordinance regulating the estimated 70 medical marijuana distribution centers within the city.

The Lansing State Journal asked all the candidates about the issue of medical marijuana in Lansing. The two successful candidates’ responses are reproduced here:

Judi Brown Clarke: “As a city council member, I proposed a medical marihuana ordinance that aligns with current state law… It is my desire to create a safe and fair process that provides Lansing’s patients access to quality businesses and safe products. Key aspects include the establishment/oversight of a Lansing Medical Marihuana Commission, reduction of dispensaries from 75 to 25, and buffering zones…”

Andy Schor: “As state representative, I voted for the law passed in September… We must now accomplish this regulatory framework and adequately regulate these dispensaries… regularly inspect these dispensaries… bad actors should be fined or closed. I am also concerned about clustering of dispensaries and would rather see them more spread out to prevent “marijuana districts” in Lansing.”

Legislative watchdogs indicate that Schor’s stance on cannabis commerce is less than optimal for a city whose current Mayor, Virg Bernero, has championed the presence of dispensaries in the state capital.

In Detroit, pro-cannabis City Council President pro tem George Cushingberry Jr. seems to have lost his bid for another term in office. In the city’s 2nd District, Cushingberry finished last in a field of three candidates during a race where the top two candidates advance to a November run-off. With 100% of precincts reporting, the Detroit Free Press indicated Cushingberry Jr gained just 20% of the district vote. Former State Senator Virgil Smith gained 22% and Roy Mcallister Jr. earned 25% of the vote.

In a field of 8 candidates, the Mayoral race in Detroit delivered two Democratic contenders for the post: current Mayor Mike Duggan and current State Senator Coleman Young Jr.

Young Jr. introduced pro-cannabis legislation in the State Senate during the 2015-16 legislative cycle. His chances to defeat Duggan were laid out in the primary election, where the current Mayor easily won the primary with 69% of the vote. Senator Young Jr. received 27% of the city-wide vote, and the remaining 6 candidates received less than 5% of voter support total.

Detroit is in the approval process for medical marijuana distribution centers, called caregiver centers, whose existence they authorized with a restrictive and controversial ordinance more than a year ago. During that time the city has approved only 5 applicants and currently have more than 70 centers in the application process, which remain open and serving patients while their legitimacy is determined.

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