A bill introduced in Michigan last week would authorize marijuana to be taxed and regulated similar to alcohol, legalizing the plant, and effectively nullifying in practice the federal prohibition on the same.

House Bill 4877 (HB4877) was introduced on Sept. 17 by Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) along with six co-sponsors. If this bill is successful, Michigan would become the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes through the legislature rather than the popular vote.

The bill would legalize and regulate the “cultivation, processing, testing, possession, and use of marihuana for nonmedical purposes… for use by individuals 21 years of age or older.” It also removes criminal penalties for the following activities:

(a) Possessing, using, displaying, purchasing, or transporting marihuana accessories or 1 ounce or less of marihuana.
(b) Possessing, growing, processing, or transporting 12 or fewer marihuana plants that exceed 12 inches in either height or diameter and possessing the marihuana derived from those plants on the premises where the plants are grown. This subdivision applies only if the plants are grown in an enclosed, locked space and not openly or publicly displayed.
(c) Transferring 1 ounce or less of marihuana to an individual who is 21 years of age or older.
(d) Consuming marihuana, if the consumption is not conducted openly and publicly or in a manner that endangers others.
(e) Possessing, growing, receiving, or transferring marihuana seed stock or any number of immature plants less than 12 inches in height and diameter that do not have buds or flowers.
(f) Assisting another individual who is 21 years of age or older in any of the acts described in subdivisions (a) to (e).

Limited prohibitions against marijuana would remain. Distribution of marijuana to individuals under the age of 21 would remain illegal. Driving under the influence of marijuana is explicitly banned as well. Local communities “may prohibit the operation of marihuana cultivation facilities, marihuana product manufacturing facilities, marihuana testing facilities, or retail marihuana stores by ordinance or an initiated or referred measure.”

Excise taxes would start at 5 percent but would increase to 10 percent over five years. Tax monies from legal marijuana would go to fund schools, transportation and substance abuse treatment programs. Licensing fees are not to exceed $5,000 dollars with annual fees not to exceed $500.

The best thing about measures such as HB4877 is that they are completely Constitutional, and there is little if anything the feds can do to stop them in practice.


Congress and the president claim the constitutional authority to ban marijuana. The Supreme Court concurs. However, nearly two-dozen states have taken steps to put the well-being of their citizens above the so-called federal supremacy by legalizing marijuana to varying degrees anyway.

“The rapidly growing and wildly successful state-level movement to legalize marijuana, either completely, or for medical use, proves that states can successfully effectively reject unconstitutional federal acts. The feds can claim the authority to prohibit pot all they want, but it clearly has done nothing to deter states from moving forward with plans to allow it, pushed by the will of the people,” Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin said.

HB4877 must first pass in the House Judiciary Committee before it can receive a vote in the full state House.