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Michigan Governor Signs Bill Ending Medical Marijuana License Ban For People With Past Convictions

The governor of Michigan on Thursday signed a bill that makes it so people with a marijuana-related felony or misdemeanor convictions on their record are no longer disqualified from obtaining a medical cannabis business license.

There’s an exception for those who were convicted of distributing marijuana to a minor, but overall the legislation is meant to resolve a problem that advocates have identified. Given that people of color are more likely to have been targets of marijuana criminalization in the past, the restrictions on participation in the industry were viewed as discriminatory.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed HB 4295 on Thursday. Beyond eliminating the licensing ban, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Julie Alexander (R), also stipulates that elected officials and employees of federally recognized tribes can obtain a state cannabis license.

Also, regulators “may no longer consider the integrity, moral character, reputation, or personal probity of an applicant in evaluating eligibility for licensure” under the newly enacted law, a press release from the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency says. These restrictions have only applied to medical cannabis operators; the state’s adult-use market does not contain such prohibitions.

The legislation also clarifies that the spouses of people who’ve applied for marijuana operating licenses are eligible to get licensed as well “unless the spouse’s position created a conflict of interest, was within the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA), or a state or federal regulatory body making decisions regarding medical marijuana,” according to the press release.

The law takes effect immediately.

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