Though Michigan will probably be legalizing recreational weed this year, you’ll only be drinking marijuana-infused beer in your dreams. This week, a State Senator introduced legislation that would prohibit the sale of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer containing cannabis. Here’s a look at this latest restrictive marijuana law, and why safety is a major concern for this Senator.
The Advent of Weed Beer
For some, marijuana-infused beer is the answer to their prayers. For others, it’s a catastrophe waiting to happen. And cannabis beer has been making a lot of headlines. So far, THC-infused cannabis beer is only available in Colorado.
There are many smaller breweries making cannabis-infused beer, but the inventor of Blue Moon stole the spotlight. As we reported last March, famed MillerCoors brewmaster Keith Villa went off to found his own cannabis-infused beer company, Ceria. This Arvada, Colorado-based brewery is developing three non-alcoholic beers.
Ceria is marketing their products as craft cannabis beers. So far, they’re planning on releasing a Belgian wheat beer, an imperial IPA and a light lager.
Michigan Is Bracing Itself For Legalization
The fact that legislators are thinking about cannabis-infused beer tells us how close Michigan is to legalization. In late April, Michigan announced that the November ballot will include a question about recreational cannabis.
Not only did canvassers secure over 100,000 more signatures than necessary to add recreational cannabis to the ballot, but polls show that a majority of Michiganders support recreational marijuana.
Legislators are preparing for legalization and, in some cases, even speeding up the process. Republican lawmakers, eager to keep their majority in the Michigan Senate, may even legalize marijuana before the ballot initiative to discourage weed supporters (read: Democrats) from going to the polls.
Other lawmakers, like Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, Michigan, are building a legal framework so that legalization, when it ultimately arrives, won’t turn Michigan into Colorado.
This Bill Would Ban Cannabis-Infused Beer
Bill SB 969 would prevent the sale of any cannabis-infused beer, alcoholic or otherwise. This would apply to non-psychoactive cannabinoids, too. Even if an infused beer doesn’t get you ‘high’, you still wouldn’t be allowed to produce or consume it in Michigan.
Senator Jones explained to the Detroit Free Press, “I’ve been studying the problems that have been created in Colorado following the legalization of marijuana. And marijuana-infused beer is a recipe for disaster.”
Jones also worries about adding to bartenders’ responsibilities. “Bartenders are required right now to judge how much a patron has had to drink,” he said. “It’s hard enough to do with alcohol without adding in THC.”
From a legal perspective, Jones sees cannabis-infused beers as a major liability for bars. Unlike alcohol, there is zero tolerance for driving while high. Determining whether a patron is ‘high’ could be difficult for the bartender, especially since you don’t immediately feel the effects of an edible.
Senator Jones remains firm in his opinion. “It’s simply a product that Michigan doesn’t need.”
Will Lawmakers Approve the Bill Banning Cannabis-Infused Beer?
The next step in the legislative process is bringing the bill to the Senate Regulatory Reform committee. So far, there is no telling how lawmakers will vote.
However, we do know that Michigan’s Republican-controlled government has been devoting a lot of energy to marijuana policy, both in expanding medical access and cracking down on distribution. Last week, Michigan held a public meeting during which they discussed adding 22 more conditions to the list of those qualifying for medical marijuana.
Contrastingly, Michigan formulated a more precise marijuana policy last year and recently started enforcing it. Last month, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs closed over 200 dispensaries. These businesses had failed to submit newly required paperwork.
All in all, marijuana policy is in flux in Michigan. And in many cases, it’s getting more strict. It looks probable that legislators will succeed in banning cannabis-infused beer, at least for now.