The Michigan legislature has passed a series of bills that establish a statewide medical marijuana regulatory system, create a seed-to-sale tracking system and legalize edibles and concentrates.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Michigan since 2008, but following a state Supreme Court ruling in 2013, patients have been required to cultivate their own cannabis or acquire it through a caretaker. Since then, regulations varied by municipality, with some localities permitting dispensaries and others having marijuana businesses open illegally, making it difficult for many patients to get access. That all will soon change, however, thanks to the recent passing of a collection of five bills that establish a statewide regulatory system.
Governor Rick Snyder signed all five bills – House Bills 4209, 4210 and 4827, and Senate Bills 141 and 1014 – into law on September 21. Together, they will establish the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act to license and regulate the program, create a seed-to-sale marijuana tracking system, and legalize the manufacturing and use of cannabis lotions, oils and brownies. The new laws will take effect 90 days from the day they were signed.
“This new law will help Michiganders of all ages and with varying medical conditions access safe products to relieve their suffering,” Gov. Snyder said. “We can finally implement a solid framework that gives patients a safe source from which to purchase and utilize medical marijuana.”
The Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act is the main attraction of the package of bills. It lays out most of the regulations and establishes five license types, including grower, processor, dispensary, transporter and testing lab. The law doesn’t set a statewide cap on the number of licenses that can be issued, though local governments are allowed to enact caps of their own.
About 213,000 Michigan residents, more than 2 percent of the state’s population, participate in the state’s medical marijuana program, according to ABC 57 News. Previously restricted to marijuana’s “dried leaves and flowers,” with the new law patients will have legal access to cannabis edibles and extracts for the first time.
“These bills are for the patients,” said Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, sponsor of one of the bills. “They will help children with seizure disorders, they will help people with cancer maintain their quality of life.”
Additionally under the new law, a new 3 percent tax on gross receipts will be placed upon medical marijuana dispensaries. Hillsdale College economist Dr. Gary Wolfram has estimated that Michigan will collect about $63 million a year in fees and taxes. A portion of the revenue will go to the police departments in areas with marijuana businesses.
“When we first started approaching public officials and legislators, most of them didn’t want to talk to us about medical marijuana,” Robin Schneider of the National Patients Right Association told the Metro Times. “Many didn’t believe there was medicinal benefit at all. We spent years debating with law enforcement about regulations, the need for transporting security, and seed-to-sale tracking. The two opposite sides had to meet in the middle.”
Michigan has approved medical marijuana for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), cachexia or wasting syndrome, cancer, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, nail-patella syndrome, nausea, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seizures, and severe and persistent muscle spasms.