Medical marijuana patients soon will have more legal options for treatment courtesy of the Michigan Senate. Last Thursday, in a break from typical procedure, the Senate pulled a few controversial plans from committee for consideration and a plenary Senate vote.

For a year, the measures languished in committee for lack of votes despite widespread support from the plenary Senate. The three bills passed the Senate by a wide-margin and will be presented to the Governor in the next few weeks.

Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act

The first new law, HB 4209, establishes a tiered licensing and regulation framework for medical marijuana growers, processors, transporters, provisioning centers, and safety compliance facilities. Written approval is required from the municipality where the marijuana facility is to be located.

The license requires annual renewal. In addition, a new state bureaucracy, the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board, will administer and implement this act. Soon the hippy pot farmer will be a relic; replaced with a brand new state bureaucracy.

Amending the Original Medical Marijuana Act

The second law, HB 4210, amends the original medical marijuana act to include marijuana-infused products such as edibles, oils and pills. Parents of minor children with cancer or epilepsy favor these products. The parents would like to avoid smoke-based methods of ingesting THC; the active drug that helps such conditions.

The Marijuana Tracking Act

The third law, HB 4827, creates a seed-to-sale tracking system of all medical marijuana. This bill is tie-barred to the new licensing act. This bureaucracy is charged with tracking the lot and batch information throughout the growth and harvest process. The board will also keep track of all marijuana sales, plant, batch, and product destruction, inventory discrepancies, loss, theft, or diversion of marijuana products; and adverse patient responses.

The three bills will regulate the growth, transport, tracking, processing, and provisioning of medical marijuana. Basically, this is a green light for the commercial production of medical marijuana as well as much needed clarification of the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries. Dispensaries have been operating in a legal gray area since passage of the original act in 2008.

The Consequences

Soon, there will be noticeable changes across the state. The proponents of the bills claim the measures will generate small business opportunity and create increased tax revenue.

These new businesses do face increased regulation with both the tracking system and the 3% tax on the sale of marijuana. The new laws use a tiered licensing system for marijuana distributors and “care providers”.

The Facilities Act requires prior approval by municipal ordinance for a dispensary. Strong opposition is expected in many communities [Birmingham], while others [Royal Oak] may welcome the business. Of course, the increase in a municipality’s general fund may drive the bus for marijuana dispensary ordinance approval.

Applications for a license as a grower, processor, transporter, or seller will be available 180-days after the bills become law. This will allow municipalities time to decide whether to allow the new industry to take root in their communities. The delay also allows the State time to form the regulatory board and fund the bureaucracy with an initial $500,000 investment from the general fund.

While these changes finally provide some clarity for existing dispensaries, it also creates a lot of new regulation that these operations will need to comply with. The several acts, in conjunction, contain a myriad of rules that these operations will need to follow. Running afoul of a minor regulations can result in civil and criminal repercussions for owners, employees, and patients.

We Can Help

Before exposing yourself to harsh sanctions, speak with an attorney knowledgeable with the new legislation.  An experienced lawyer can guide you through this evolving area.

Our office is ready to assist you through this intensive process with experience in business planning, compliance, and municipal law. This emerging market offers tremendous opportunity for those who can establish themselves early as players in the industry.

Give our office a call and schedule a free consultation today in order to get out ahead of the crowd.

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