Greetings, followers and contributors,
Please allow me to introduce myself: my name is Ron Pease, and I am the President of Defend MI Rights. I would like to thank all of you for your contributions! They are facilitating the legal action that allows all of you stay in business, and to get products to customers that depend on all of those delicious flavors to stay off of combustibles.
I have asked the team to send this out to all of you to provide an update on the cases, the funding, and the legislative efforts. I just learned that you were not being sent updates up to this point and for that I am truly sorry. You will see updates from this point forward.
Defend MI Rights at Home in Michigan
As you are all aware, the Preliminary Injunction on behalf of 906 Vapor and A Clean Cigarette was successful and granted by the Honorable Judge Stevens in the Court of Claims. In the days following, The Attorney General’s Office filed a Motion for Stay in the Court of Claims with Judge Stevens. That motion was denied, meaning the PI stands.
The AG’s and The Governor’s offices have also filed a Motion for Appeal with the appellate court as well as filed a Motion with the State Supreme Court asking that they hear the case. As of today, neither court has responded. The attorneys have filed a Brief with both courts in response to the filings, but it has not moved further than that. Based on the documents submitted, the State has not brought any new information to either of those Motions.
There have been a couple of Non-Government Organizations (NGO) that have filed an amicus brief in defense of the State of Michigan. Essentially, they are asking to be heard in testimony in support of the Emergency Rule. This is very common and nothing that we should be concerned about at this time. We will be sharing more information as it becomes available.
Making a Federal Case Out of It
The second case was on the federal level: Mister-E-Liquid LLC vs Governor Whitmer and the Department of Health and Human Services. During arguments in the PI hearing in the previously mentioned lawsuit, the AG’s Office released an “Interpretive Statement” which clarified that the state did not intend to interrupt interstate commerce and allowed products to be sold, transported, and distributed as long as they were not intended for sale or distribution within the State of Michigan.
This allowance was the majority of the argument in the federal case, so at this time, that case has been dismissed without prejudice, meaning we can reopen the case in the future if needed.
Your Contributions at Work
I would like to clear up some possible misconceptions regarding funding and the use of your contributions. To date, Defend MI Rights has received $96,332.91! Thank you again for your generosity and your recognition of how critical this issue is.
This money is being used to pay for the PR firm we used to get the word out to the press. Most of the reports you heard or read have been from this firm. It is also used to pay for the local council in Houghton MI when Mr Slis filed his argument to the Circuit court. We have also engaged the services of a CPA, who manages the accounts for the non-profit organization.
The remaining money will be used to pay for the law firm representing Marc Slis as this case moves through the court system. We have also engaged with Keller and Heckman in Washington DC as they are one of the very best firms to represent us in the Federal case and to assist Marc Slis’s council with the fine details of the vaping industry.
And your contributions are maybe more essential than you realize. We absolutely cannot win this fight without you. Right now, a relatively small number of companies have shouldered most of the financial burden of the efforts to fight the flavor ban, in Michigan and elsewhere. In total, nearly $250,000 in legal fees have accrued from the counsel in the various cases.
Your contributions have covered the first $96,332.91 of these invoices, as well as the cost of the public relations team that brought our cause to national attention. The remainder of the legal expenses have been paid by a handful of anonymous Defend MI Rights Coalition members, companies like yours who realize that we need to stand together if we’re all going to make it through. These expenses will only continue to rise as the legal battle continues, and we will need your help more than ever in the weeks and months to come.
Taking Legislative Action
Thanks to the generosity of Mister-E-Liquid, Wild Bill’s, and Joost Vapor, we have three lobbyists working hard for us in the state capitol every day which do not cost Defend MI Rights any money at all. All three of them are working with Michigan’s state representatives and Senators to draft legislation that represents both the needs of the industry and what is palatable for the lawmakers. This is a very delicate balance indeed!
The Defend MI Rights Board of Directors came together in a meeting and laid out all of the needs of the e-liquid industry, which is being used as a guide for the lobbyists and the Chamber of Commerce while drafting proposed legislation. We had several members of the vapor industry at that meeting, representing vape companies of all sizes, including distributors, manufacturers, and vape shop owners.
This is Only the Beginning
As we have more information as to the progress of these bills and lawsuits, we will pass it along. Again, I apologize for the information shortfall up until now, and rest assured, you’ll be hearing from us much more frequently in the future.
Thank you all again for your attention and your dedication. This is nothing short of an existential threat to the future of vaping, but if we stand together, we will all come through this stronger than ever!
Ronald L Pease II
Defend MI Rights