A proposed bill in Michigan would eliminate the “moral character” clause in the state’s adult-use cannabis law, WKAR Public Media reports. The legislation sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Jeff Irwin, said the current law could be used to keep out individuals who illegally sold—or sell cannabis—from participating in the industry.
Irwin said in a statement that “it would seem to be especially important” that the door remains open for legal operators to hire “folks who are very experienced in the illicit cannabis space.”
“I don’t think we want to exclude anyone who’s ever participated in the marijuana industry before it was legal from participating now that it is legal because that’s going to make it even harder for us to build the legal space and diminish the illicit space.” — Irwin to WKAR
None of the state’s Republican senators have signed onto the bill but Irwin said the proposal aligns with a bipartisan priority of clearing criminal records that could be used to deny people employment more broadly.
Last month, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) filed an amicus brief with the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Commission (UIAC) arguing that employees fired solely for their off-the-clock cannabis use should still qualify for unemployment benefits.
Under the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency can deny an applicant because of their “integrity, moral character, and reputation” or if the applicant has any prior cannabis-related offenses, even if the crime has been pardoned, expunged, or reversed, according to a press release from the senator’s office.
The measure was referred to the Committee on Regulatory Reform.
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