Connecting state and local government leaders

Michigan Senator Wants to Ban Marijuana-Infused Alcohol

A medical marijuana dispensary in Ypsilanti, Michigan

A medical marijuana dispensary in Ypsilanti, Michigan Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Sen. Rick Jones says the legislation is necessary because Michigan voters may soon decide whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

A bill working its way through the Michigan Senate would ban the production, sale and consumption of marijuana-infused beer, spirits and wine.

Sen. Rick Jones, a Republican from Grand Ledge, told the Detroit Free Press that the legislation is necessary because Michigan voters may soon decide whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

"This is happening in Colorado and should the ballot proposal pass in November, we’re going to end up with it here," Jones told the paper. "It's a recipe for disaster."

Currently, Colorado is the only state that allows marijuana-infused brews, and even there, it’s a non-alcoholic version sold by the makers of Blue Moon.

Jones said the bill would protect bars and restaurants who might serve marijuana-infused alcohol without knowing the effects, and noted that Michigan has a “zero-tolerance policy” for people found driving under the influence of marijuana.

But advocates said the bill is unnecessary, as Michigan law already states that marijuana dispensaries can’t sell alcohol, while alcohol stores can’t sell marijuana.

The bill passed the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee Wednesday and moves next to the full Senate. It’s the latest blow for marijuana-infused alcohol, which hit a stumbling block in Florida last month when the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau told two breweries to stop crafting beers infused with cannabis terpenes oil that the federal agency hadn’t approved.

Cannabis terpenes are fragrant oils extracted from marijuana plants that give pot its “signature stinky flavor,” SouthFlorida.com reported. Brewers there said they didn’t know the oil required federal approval, as it does not contain THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), marijuana’s active ingredient.

Meanwhile, Canadian brewers remain undeterred. The Ontario provincial government this month contributed $300,000 to help a Toronto company work with a college to develop the first beer brewed from cannabis.

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

NEXT STORY: Tracking State Preemption Just Got Easier