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Medical Marijuana Patients in Michigan Paying 6% Sales Tax Spurs Debate

Medical Marijuana Patients in Michigan Paying 6% Sales Tax Spurs Debate

Dina Al-Shibeeb
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One argument says it should be up to legislatures to make a final decision if marijuana patients in Michigan should be taxed.

But for others, it is good that the state started to tax patients as it will further legitimize the cannabis industry there.

The debate sprung after earlier this year, Michigan’s Department of Treasury issued a decision, making medical marijuana cardholders to pay a 6% tax for products purchased, The Detroit Free Press reported on Tuesday.

Medical marijuana patients can either buy from a registered dispensary or from a caregiver operating under the old law that was approved by voters in 2008.

A caregiver is defined as a person, who is certified to grow 12 plants for each of five patients.

However, Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws or NORML, is against how this became a reality to Michiganders without their approval.

“Until earlier this year, the Treasury Department didn’t want anything to do with patient-to-caregiver transactions,” Thompson said.

“Any change of this magnitude should be initiated by an act of the Legislature. It shouldn’t be up to the purview of a state department or department head.”

Trump’s Administration Passing Fed Budget

On Friday, Trump’s Administration passed its federal budget, which includes language prohibiting the federal government from intervening in states’ spending on marijuana.

For Alex Leonowicz, an attorney with the Howard & Howard law firm in Royal Oak: “It’s great news because it takes the teeth out of (Attorney General Jeff) Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole memo.”

In early January, Sessions rescinded what is called the Cole memo, which allowed states, where marijuana is already legal, to freely operate businesses without any federal government international.   

Marijuana is illegal on a federal level. But medical marijuana is legal in 29 U.S. states, and recreational cannabis is fair game in about nine U.S. states.

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Sessions’ annulment of the memo had sent shivers down the cannabis industry’s spine, with banks stopping to process pot transactions, fearing to get into hot water with the feds.

But everyone has their own take on Michigan taxing medical marijuana patients.

Treasury Department spokesman Ron Leix said: “It’s an honor system,” not necessarily easy to enforce.

Leix said the 6% use tax is consolidated into one line on state tax returns, making it hard to count how much these medical marijuana cardholders have paid for over the years.

“If they have, it’s been minimal,” Leix added.

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