While recreational marijuana may have been put on the back burner in Michigan for the moment, things are finally moving again when it comes to a package of five bills that aim to improve the medical marijuana program in the state. Voters passed an initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Michigan in 2008 – however, it only specified conditions for which it could be used and offered absolutely nothing as far as a regulatory framework for lawmakers to go off of when it comes to deciding what is legal and what is not.
So for the last few years lawmakers have been trying to come to an agreement on how the medical marijuana market should be regulated. Last October, the House of Representatives introduced and passed 5 different bills regarding the cultivation of medical marijuana, infused marijuana products and dispensaries, among other things. Unfortunately those bills have been sitting around in the Senate while they were revised – until they finally passed the three changed bills this week and sent them back over to the House for a final vote.
With the changes made, the House was quick to take a second vote, passing the bills which now await the signature of Governor Rick Snyder. The three major things covered in these bills is creating a seed-to-sale tracking system for the state’s marijuana plants, creating a licensing process for those wishing to grow or sell medical cannabis in Michigan and finally a bill that will fully legalize the use of non-smoked marijuana products such as oils and edibles, which are in an odd grey area with the current legislation.
“This landmark legislation creates a framework to spark small business development, promote job growth and generate much-needed revenue for both the state and local communities,” said Willie Rochon, MCDA vice president and spokesperson.
“The legislation creates a state licensing board to govern the marijuana industry while respecting local control by allowing municipalities to regulate medical marijuana facilities under their jurisdiction. This legislation will serve as the roadmap for the medical marijuana industry moving forward, and we urge the governor to quickly sign this package of bills.”
While there are some who are extremely happy to finally have this legislation moving forward – for example, patients who have been using oils and edibles that were not quite covered with the current wording of the law – there are just as many who are not pleased with the changes. Those who are against the laws are mostly those running businesses who have been working in the industry since legalization first took place, who may not be able to afford the licensing fees required to stay in business (though licensing fees have not been established, local governments can charge up to $5,000 for an annual license).
Other concerns surround the taxation of medical marijuana, which will now be about 3% for dispensaries, as no other medications are taxed and they argue that if they wish to tax it they should outright legalize it – but the chances of legislature removing the tax or choosing to outright legalize are both slim to none.
Hopefully the local governments will be willing to work with smaller businesses – especially those who have already made a name for themselves in the industry – and giving them a chance to stay in business under the new regulations. On the other hand, at least the government is taking the time to try and make their medical marijuana program more clear and concise so that there is no question on what is legal and what is not, hopefully putting an end to unnecessary raids on dispensaries.