EAST LANSING, Mich. — The East Lansing City Council has decided to use some of the money collected from a recreational marijuana tax to pay for substance abuse treatment for people convicted of drug offenses by the 54B District Court.
East Lansing's drug court was established in 2016. The program has a maximum of 30 participants and currently has 15 enrolled.
“With the drug court program we are dealing with candidates who have severe opioid, stimulant or sedative use disorders,” said Court Administrator Nicole Evans.
An assessment done by a probation officer determines what and how many programs an individual needs to go through. Each program costs $25 per session. Evans said the period of time for drug court participants is about 18 months.
Most participants are eligible for a grant or are covered by insurance. Some people, however, make too much too be eligible for entitlement programs but can't afford to pay the costs for treatment.
“Finances is a big barrier, can be a big barrier, to any person who’s going through the court,” Evans said.
The resolution passed by city council this week will allocate up to $14,000 of the money they make from recreational marijuana taxes to help those who fall into the wage gap.
“This money will not cover anyone who’s in a drug treatment court or any of our treatment courts," Evans said. "So, these individuals are going to be those that maybe fall out of the eligibility criteria.”
Michigan has a 10 percent excise tax on recreational marijuana sales, 15 percent of which goes to municipalities where shops are located. Last year, East Lansing collected $28,000.
The remaining amount collected in 2021 will be put into the general fund.
Evans said the money will be helpful when it comes to covering treatment costs.
“The cost for that is $200," said Evans. "$14,000 will cover about 70 people.”
While the goal is to reduce treatment costs, Evans said it doesn't mean eligible participants won't have to pay anything.
“The intent is not to use the money and wipe out every cost because there has to be some sort of consequence for being charged or convicted,” Evans said.
She said the goal is to help participants in need focus on their sobriety.
“The hope is that we are able to address the needs of the participant, of the individual that’s coming into our court and that it will enhance and improve our community overall,” Evans said.
The money will be used on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Evans. She said it will be spread out to help as many people as possible.
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