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House OKs killing required arrest records for medical pot owners

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
In this Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, photo, a clerk reaches for a container of marijuana buds for a customer at Utopia Gardens, a medical marijuana dispensary, in Detroit. Michigan and North Dakota, where voters previously authorized medical marijuana, will decide now if the drug should be legal for any adult 21 and older. They would become the 10th and 11th states to legalize so-called recreational marijuana since 2012.

Lansing — Medical marijuana business owners would not need to disclose an arrest, charge, indictment or expunged conviction on applications for state operating licenses under legislation the Michigan House approved Tuesday.

The bill by Republican Rep. Klint Kesto of Commerce Township also would exempt those with less than five percent ownership in a medical marijuana business from being listed in the application and abiding by the same financial disclosure requirements assigned to other owners.

“If they own less than five percent, they’re not really decision makers; they’re really just investors,” Kesto said, noting the legislation would lessen the board’s burden and encourage investment in the state.

The bill addresses concerns that have arisen as the state licensing board has slogged through dozens of medical marijuana license applications, at times slowed by questions about decades-old arrests or dropped charges.

In addition to exempting applicants from reporting arrests or charges, the legislation would prohibit the board from considering an indictment, charge or arrest during the license determination. The legislation would still require applicants to disclose a conviction, guilty plea or forfeited bail.

“Rather than look at every contact with police, they look at the conviction,” Kesto said, bringing the industry more in line with a state effort to remove road blocks to employment.

Michigan Rep. Klint Kesto

The bill is not retroactive, the term-limited lawmaker said, but “from a practical standpoint, we would hope that on appeal they could use this legislation as an ability to go back” if they were denied a license on arrest or charge alone.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs supported the bill, saying it would “allow a greater variety of businesses to invest in marijuana businesses yet still allows it to be administratively feasible to evaluate them.”

It’s still unclear how the bill affects applicants who are appealing licensing decisions, said Andrew Brisbo, director of Bureau of Marijuana Regulation.

“We would have to make a determination after the legislation passes how it would impacts applicants currently in the process,” Brisbo said last week.

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