Is Michigan Med Cann About to Join the 21st Century?

For those of you tracking the development of cannabis regulations across the country, you know that regulations continue to get more restrictive and onerous with only a few exceptions.

The “few exceptions” have been whittled down to California and Michigan – both notorious for their “Cannabis Version 1.0” approach to regulating the plant, which is to say they had little statewide regulation whatsoever.

California recently “upgraded” from their 1996 ballot initiative that was well known for its local enforcement and total absence of statewide regulations.  Cali is in the midst of developing rules for their mammoth new law, MMRSA, that creates an extensive infrastructure for statewide licensure and enforcement.

That left Michigan, with its 180,000 medical marijuana patients and absolutely no statewide grower or dispensary licensing system.  We have friends operating excellent collectives in places like Lansing and Ann Arbor – but it is a far different situation with constant threats of municipal crack-downs on their businesses.

It looks like Michigan is about to join California in the 21st Century:

State lawmakers could sign off as soon as this week on legislation to establish a statewide oversight and licensing system for MMJ businesses.

That’s something Michigan has lacked since voters legalized medical cannabis in 2008. Michigan’s freewheeling MMJ industry has been technically illegal since a 2011 ruling from the state Supreme Court. Instead, the MMJ market is composed of a patchwork of regulations that vary by municipality.

More specifics about the law:

HB 4209 is the centerpiece of the package, and lays out most of the regulations. Together, the five bills would:

  • Establish five license types – grower, processor, dispensary, transporter, and testing lab.
  • Create three subcategories for cultivation licenses – one with a 500-plant limit, one with a 1,000-plant limit, and one with a 1,500-plant limit.
  • Set no statewide cap on the number of licenses that could be issued.
  • Mandate an unspecified annual licensing fee for MMJ businesses.
  • Institute a requirement that local governments must adopt ordinances to specifically permit MMJ companies, and give their blessing to those that want to set up shop. Municipalities also could establish their own licensing fees of up to $5,000 a year, on top of the state fees.
  • Require businesses to secure “minimum levels of insurance.” It’s unclear what that would mean, but would be clarified during the rulemaking process.
  • Allow some vertical integration. While growers, processors and dispensaries would be allowed to overlap, they couldn’t hold transporter or testing lab licenses.
  • Mandate lab testing for MMJ product to ensure they aren’t contaminated. The testing also would determine potency levels.
  • Legalize edibles and extracts for the first time.
  • Establish a two-year residency requirement for MMJ business owners and investors that would expire June 30, 2018.
  • Require all MMJ businesses use a seed-to-sale tracking system.

Good luck, Michigan – Illinois would be happy to welcome you into the fold of Midwest Medical Cannabis States!

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