With the legalization of marijuana up for vote in November, the Livingston County Community Alliance and their friends are warning residents about its dangers. The LCCA is a county-wide coalition that works to reduce substance abuse through several different facets. Tuesday night in Howell, they invited Scott Masi of the St. John’s Providence Brighton Center for Recovery to speak about the new generation of marijuana to interested parties.

Masi said there is a generational gap in knowledge that has formed over the past few years between young adults and the older crowd. Methods of extracting a butane concentrate have allowed for jumps in potency that Masi suggests older generations, in states that have legalized, might not have known they were signing up for. He said that THC levels in marijuana doubled over the first 2 years, and have now tripled, in Colorado since 2013. This has led to an increase in overdoses and emergency room visits. Infants being born with THC in their system is also up out west, leading Masi to warn that we are priming the adolescent brain for addiction.

If passed, Michigan will have the lowest taxes on recreational marijuana at 10%. Masi compared that to Washington state, which taxes 37%. He cautions that those taxes it would bring in might not be going to where people think. He said much of it would go to rewriting legislation and fighting legal battles with neighboring states where marijuana would still be illegal. Masi pointed at lawsuits Colorado faced after legalization from problems caused by residents of bordering states crossing over for the drug, believing Michigan could face the same fate. He questioned if people were happy with where tobacco taxes, cigarette taxes, and lottery money were going, and if they believed it would be any different with marijuana. Masi said, “There’s this belief that there’s actual tax revenue that’s going to come in, but it’s like stepping on a dollar to get a dime.”

If having the lowest taxes on marijuana isn’t enough, Masi shared that one area Michigan would be highest in is possession rate. If passed, individuals would be allowed to possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana, compared to Colorado where the legal limit is 1 ounce.

Masi urges everyone to educate themselves on what legalization would mean to the state and to read the ballot initiative, which can be found at https://ballotpedia.org/Michigan_Marijuana_Legalization_Initiative_(2018) (MK)