Editorial: Stop complicating marijuana licensing
When Michigan voters in 2018 overwhelmingly approved the legalization of recreational marijuana use and sale, they didn't intend for the measure to become a windfall for labor unions and local politicians.
They just wanted to be able to buy pot in a safe and legal environment.
But thanks to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state rulemakers, getting to that point has become far more complicated and much slower than necessary.
So far, only a few recreational marijuana outlets have managed to open, and future stores face unreasonable hurdles.
The biggest and most ridiculous obstacle was erected by the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) which decided it is essential that recreational pot carry a union label.
It put in place a mandate requiring marijuana retailers to negotiate peace agreements with a labor union before they can qualify for a license. That means store owners have to agree not to oppose a union attempting to organize their employees.
There's absolutely no justification for such a rule in terms of assuring public safety or the well-being of a community. It's nothing more than a pay-off by the Whitmer administration to the labor unions that helped bankroll the governor's campaign.
It is reminiscent of the dues skim scheme forced on home health workers by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm to enrich the Service Employees International Union. That practice was ended in 2012 by the Legislature and former Gov. Rick Snyder.
But the concept lives on in Whitmer's push to have the state act as the business agent for unions who hope to organize what promises to be a lucrative pot industry.
Republican lawmakers are looking for ways to derail this racket, as they did the previous one. Hopefully they'll succeed.
We're also rooting for the success of a planned lawsuit by Detroit businesses that claim the changing rules and added requirements are thwarting their ambitions to sell pot.
The business owners, many of whom already operate medical marijuana outlets, are challenging the state for denying their applications for recreational licenses in Detroit. They say they complied with state requirements to have their applications in by Nov. 1, 2019. But 11 days later, Detroit passed an ordinance banning recreational pot sales while it worked to make sure city residents got a piece of the action.
The businesses argue that applications filed before Nov. 12 should be considered.
They're also challenging a new state rule that requires applications to be endorsed by the local city clerk.
The rule opens a door to public corruption by making elected clerks the gatekeepers for marijuana licenses. It's a bad idea that should be scrapped by the state, regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit.
Fulfilling the will of the voters when they approved recreational marijuana sales requires the state to adopt a regulatory regime that helps legal operators move their product to willing customers, without politicians and their friends getting fat in the process.