The Detroit Free Press reports and as we’ve seen around the country it’s the formers opponents who are the most ungainly in their rush towards the mighty THC $.

They report

Former lawmakers.

Nearly a dozen former members of the state House of Representatives and Senate have answered the call to make some money on the industry.

And it’s a lucrative business that has already seen sales of medical marijuana skyrocket to $229.3 million in the past year. Those numbers are expected to jump to near $1 billion annually once sales of marijuana for adult recreational use begin later this year or by early 2020.

There’s nothing that says former lawmakers can’t work, consult or lobby in the marijuana industry after they leave office. But, in an effort to ensure they aren’t immediately cashing in on the influence they had as legislators, most states have instituted “cooling off” periods that range from six months to six years so lawmakers have to wait before becoming a lobbyist.

Michigan is one of only nine states, along with Washington D.C., that has little or no cooling-off period between when lawmakers leave office and when they can register as a lobbyist, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The only restriction in Michigan is that if lawmakers leave office before the end of their term, they are prohibited from becoming a lobbyist until after the end of that term.

Michigan is ranked at the bottom of the ethical heap by the Center for Public Integrity, primarily because the state doesn’t require the governor or legislature to disclose financial information or release documents under the Freedom of Information Act. But the lack of any significant lobbying guidelines has also contributed to the state’s score of “F.”

“We’ve rated them as being at the bottom of our site,” said Kristian Hernandez, of the center. “They don’t have to disclose anything.”

Former GOP leader set the tone

In the marijuana business, it  makes little difference whether the lawmaker supported or opposed legalization of marijuana, especially recreational pot.

Former Speaker of the U.S. House John Boehner, R-Ohio,  set an early example. He was an ardent opponent of marijuana legalization. Until he wasn’t. He’s on the board of New York-based Acreage Holdings, one of the largest cannabis businesses in the industry.

He told an audience at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy conference in 2018 that his transformation from pot foe to friend evolved over time.

“Especially in the last four to five years, the number of people that I know who are using cannabis in some form to relieve some medical issues has really gone up,” he said. “So I got into looking into the medical benefits of cannabis and it’s really pretty incredible.”

He turned that into a lucrative entry into the marijuana business, and so have many former lawmakers in Michigan.

Former state Sen. Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, worked as a spokesman for the anti-recreational marijuana legalization campaign – Healthy and Productive Michigan.

But he now is helping clients who want to open a medical marijuana dispensary.

“I’ve got a medical marijuana client who wants to put a dispensary in a town,” he said. “It would look almost like an Apple store and pharmacy, and I’m helping them to navigate the industry.”

He’s still opposed to legal weed beyond medical marijuana, saying last year’s ballot proposal, approved by voters 56% to 44%, was poorly written and that it will increase access to pot by kids. However, most medical marijuana dispensaries are expected to apply for recreational licenses when the state starts accepting applications on Nov. 1.

Likewise, former Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-Grand Haven, opposed the legalization proposal and worked hard to amend the issue once it passed. He wanted to put a stop to a provision that allowed people to grow up to 12 plants in their homes for personal use and he proposed keeping the politically appointed licensing board, instead of the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, to make the decisions on who could get into the business.

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