Michigan Marijuana Licensing License Lawyer
Marijuana Licensing Lawyer
The 2016 Michigan Medical Marijuana Legislation
Eight long years after Michigan voters overwhelmingly passed the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act in November 2008, the Michigan legislature passed three separate marijuana bills that will drastically impact and change the way that medical marijuana is grown and sold in Michigan. The new legislation also amended the MMMA to expressly allow for the manufacture, possession, and use of marijuana infused products (known as marijuana edibles or medibles). More on the changes to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act here: Changes to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act 2016.
The new state laws create a comprehensive state licensing system intended to control the growing, processing, transporting, testing, and sale of medical marijuana throughout the state. Marijuana that is grown and sold through state-licensed dispensaries will be carefully controlled and monitored – similar to the way the state controls the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcohol. This page will try to summarize some of the key changes and explain how they will affect you.
Rumors and Innuendos.
There have been many rumors and innuendos. Most are not true. There are many unknowns about the new medical marijuana legislative laws, in part because much of the fine print and details has yet to be written. The state has until December 15, 2017 to finalize the rules and regulations that will govern the new licenses, although we expect that there will be guidance long before then. Rest assured that we will be closely monitoring these new laws and the rules and regulations that will be promulgated in the near future and will be ready to provide you with accurate and timely advice.
What the New Marijuana Laws do not do.
The new laws do NOT decriminalize marijuana. The new laws do NOT create recreational marijuana. The new laws do NOT change the method of obtaining a patient or caregiver medical marijuana identification card. The new laws do NOT mandate seed-to-sale tracking for patients or their caregivers who cultivate marijuana under the protection of the MMMA. The new laws do NOT get rid of the Section 8 medical marijuana affirmative defense.
Personal growing of medical cannabis by medical patients or by their primary caregiver remains unchanged. Likewise, the 5 – 1 patient caregiver ratio and relationship under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) remains unchanged.
Medical Marihuana Will be Available in State-Licensed Dispensaries.
Under the medical marijuana act, all 200,000(+) state-registered medical marijuana patients must either grow their own marijuana or obtain it from one of the 37,000 registered primary caregivers. While the voter-enacted Michigan Medical Marihuana Act authorized the medical use of marijuana throughout the state, it failed to create any sort of acquisition or distribution system. The state attorney general and appellate courts have repeatedly ruled that marijuana dispensaries are not authorized nor allowed by the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, and neither are patient-to-patient or caregiver-to-caregiver transfers.
There are hundred of dispensaries and compassion clubs open throughout the state. They have been allowed to open and exist by local law enforcement and local prosecutors who decided to turn a blind eye. Some counties have numerous marijuana dispensaries while others, many in west Michigan, have been so-called "dry" counties. The dispensaries that opened for business in the “dry” counties were systematically raided and shuttered, with the owners charged with felony drug offenses. Patients in these dry counties who did not want to cultivate marijuana plants (or designate a primary caregiver to do it for them) often have had to drive long distances to obtain medical cannabis. This will soon change.
Marijuana Dispensaries Will be allowed.
House Bill 4209. The new law will expressly allow state-licensed dispensaries, called "provisioning centers" to operate under the oversight of the state, and the licensees will be immune from state marijuana criminal laws. The newly minted dispensaries will be required to obtain all of the marijuana and marijuana products that they sell from state-licensed growers and manufacturers. The marijuana growers will be tasked with supplying the dispensaries with quality marijuana. Marijuana-infused products (medibles) sold in the licensed dispensaries will be required to have been manufactured by state-licensed producers. All of the marijuana and marijuana-infused products will have to be transported by a state-licensed secure transporter. All of the marijuana and marijuana products will be required to have undergone testing at a state-licensed laboratory. Each step of the journey from seed to cultivation to sale will be tracked, inventoried, and verified by the new seed-to-sale statewide monitoring system.
Secure Transporters, Large Scale Grows, Testing Labs, and Processors.
It is important to note that House Bill 4209 did NOT amend the MMMA. Those that wish to continue their private grow operations will be allowed to do so. Instead, the new laws create a new marijuana licensing system that is will be vast and complex. The new law is titled: the "Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act." Under this new licensing law, five new types of medical marijuana licenses will be created, together with a vast bureaucracy to oversee the new licenses and collect taxes. The licenses are:
- growers: Class A (500 plants); Class B (1000 plants); and Class C (1500 plants)
- processors (a/k/a makers of marijuana-infused products)
- secure transporters
- safety compliance facilities (a/k/a testing laboratories)
- provisioning centers (dispensaries)
All five marijuana license categories will only be available to those persons whose local municipality or local government has an ordinance that allows for that type of license. What this means is, dispensaries, grow facilities, testing centers, transporters, and processors will not be allowed to exist within a municipality or city that does not have a law that allows for them to exist and function within the city limits. Thus, local units of government will be able to decide if they want to allow dispensaries, processing centers, testing facilities, transporters, and large grow facilities within their borders. According to news reports, some municipalities have already cast a "no" vote. That is their prerogative under the new law. Without local pre-approval, a prospective licensee is not eligible to apply to the state for any of the five licenses.
Financial Incentives and Taxes.
Every license category will have application fees at the local and state level. Local municipalities are allowed to charge up to five thousand dollars ($5000) per application. In addition to the application fees, a new marijuana tax of three percent (3%) will be imposed on the sales from the marijuana provisioning centers.
Local governments that pass laws allowing medical marijuana businesses will participate in the new tax revenue. The tax monies will be split between the state, the counties, and the local cities and townships that allow marijuana facilities to be located in them. Those cities or villages that decide to be “dry” will not receive any of the new tax money.
Licenses to be Divided up.
Michigan House Bill 4209 requires that ownership of the new marijuana licenses be separated. Those who hold a dispensary license will not be allowed to own or hold an ownership interest in a testing facility or a secure transporter. Those that hold a secure transporter license or testing facility license cannot own or hold any ownership interest in any of the other four licenses.
Seed to Sale Tracking System.
House Bill 4827 creates a seed-to-sale tracking system that is designed to oversee the five new state-issued marijuana licenses. Note that HB 4827 did NOT amend the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. Instead, this new law creates a computer network system that will be charged with tracking and verifying the source, inventory, and location of ALL medical marijuana plants, marijuana, medical marijuana infused products, and medical marijuana sales. Marijuana will be tracked from its inception as a seed or a clone, through harvest, to the secure transporters, to the licensed marijuana-infused product manufacturers, to the testing laboratory, then back to the secure transporters to the marijuana furnishing centers and ultimately to the consumers. This new tracking system will be active 24/7.
Dispensaries will be required to verify the status of every patient or primary caregiver's identification card prior to a sale. Those with expired MMMA cards or those who have never applied for a card will Not be allowed to make purchases from the new state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. The new system will track each marijuana sale, and record the date, time, place, quantity, price and identity of the grower, transporter, tester, producer, seller and purchaser. The system will not allow a patient or caregiver to purchase more than the 2.5 ounces allowed by the MMMA at a time. Thus, a patient who purchases their quota from dispensary ‘A’ will not be allowed to go down the street and purchase an additional 2.5 ounces from dispensary ‘B’. All information is required to be held confidential, and is supposed to be accessible only to the state, state licensees, and law enforcement personnel, and only to the extent these entities are authorized to access the information.
Patients and Caregivers Will Still be Allowed to Grow Marijuana.
Those who wish to continue to grow their own marijuana under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act will be allowed to do so. In short, the new laws do not disrupt the current patient-caregiver relationship. Neither medical marijuana patients nor their caregivers are required to participate in the seed-to-sale tracking system. The only time a patient (or their caregiver) will interact with the new system is if they decide to purchase marijuana from one of the state licensed medical marijuana provisioning centers. Before they will be allowed to make a purchase, the marijuana dispensary will be required to electronically verify that the patient’s (or caregiver’s) card is valid. And of course, any purchases made will be recorded in the state’s medical marijuana database.
When Can I Apply for One of the New Marijuana Licenses?
House Bill’s 4209 and 4827 were signed by the governor on September 21, 2016, and were effective December 20, 2016. However, the state will not begin accepting applications for any of the five new license categories for an additional 360 days after the initial ninety days. The earliest date the state will begin accepting applications is Friday, December 15, 2017.
House Bill 4210 was the only medical marijuana bill from 2016 that amended the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. HB 4210 modified MMMA Sections' 3, 4, 6, and 7. The major change is that the definition of “usable marijuana” now includes THC-infused products such as marijuana brownies, tinctures, lotions, marijuana oils, Simpson's Oil, waxes, and other types of non-smokable marijuana used for medical consumption. These products had been barred from Section 4 immunity by a 2013 Michigan Court of Appeals decision (People v Carruthers).
You can read more about how House Bill 4210 Amended the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act on this page: Marijuana Medibles and What is a “plant?”
Attorney and Counselor at Law
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Phone: (616) 676-8770
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Disclaimer: It is our hope that everyone will strictly adhere to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act's requirements. Please understand that the purpose of this webpage is strictly informational; nothing on this website or this webpage are intended to suggest that you violate any state or federal law. You are advised to seek your own personalized legal advice.