MI Legislature Exercises Its License to License
The Michigan legislature is hard at work trying to license every component part of the emerging cannabis industry. What does that mean to patients and caregivers? Attendees at the November 5 Women Grow meeting at Bloom City Club received an overview of five proposed licenses by Robin Schneider, lobbyist for Michigan Patient Rights Association.
According to Robin, these five licenses will be implemented if current legislation passes:
- A dispensary license—for retail stores where registered patients can purchase medicine
- A cultivator license— for growers in commercial or agricultural zoned areas
- A processing license—for companies that process the leaf cannabis and by-products to make edibles, tinctures, topicals, oils, concentrates, and other products.
- A transportation license—for Brinks truck-like companies that securely transport the cannabis to and from any of the other licensed entities
- A testing facility license—for businesses that exist to perform the required testing of all cannabis products (flower, edibles, tinctures, concentrates) before they are sold to patients
The cultivator license will come in three sub-categories: for growers of 500 or fewer plants, growers of up to 1,000 plants, and growers of up to 1,500 plants. The specific fees have not yet been determined but it is believed that this same 1:2:3 plant grow ratio will be maintained in the respective fees. For example, if the fee for a 500 plant grow is $10,000, then the respective fees for 1,000 and 1,500 plant grows will be $20,000 and $30,000. Zoning will ultimately be up to the municipality that allows cultivation. There likely will be a residency requirement (one of the owners must be a Michigan resident) and one person on staff must have been a registered caregiver in Michigan for at least two years.
These first three licenses may be “stacked,” meaning one entity may own one or several of each of them.
The transportation license resolves the issue the police lobby was concerned with regarding individuals driving around the state with pounds of cannabis and cannabis products in their unsecured cars but it is seen as an unnecessary and expensive impediment to small and struggling businesses. A person with 10% interest in any company with one of the first three licenses may not own a transportation license.
Owners of testing facilities must be independent of other businesses and may not have more than a 10% ownership in any of the other business license types. It is believed this provision will change in the Senate version to allow no (0%) ownership in the other business licenses.
Already, the state police lobby has attempted to thwart these bills if the existing caregiver system is not eliminated. According to Allison Ireton, co-chair of the Michigan chapter of Women Grow, “The understanding is that police think the existing caregiver system allows legal but largely unrestrained growing and that cannabis that is legally grown ultimately ends up on the black market. Speculation is that police want all in-house caregiver operations shut down so that only licensed commercial grows with police oversight are allowed to grow. ”
Meanwhile, affected industry groups are trying to change the language in favor of their special interests. For example, and not surprisingly, the Michigan Responsibility Council (MRC) is attempting to introduce language to have licensed mega-grows that produce a minimum of 180,000 plants per year. The requirements for obtaining one of these licenses, like having paid at least $25 million in taxes in the prior year, would essentially limit access to only mega-corporations like Big Tobacco and Pharma. The MRC was the sponsor of the ballot proposal, now apparently in limbo but still surreptitiously alive, that would have divided the state into ten fiefdoms, each controlled by a different Republican.
There will continue to be heavy lobbying on behalf of patient and caregiver interests but also on behalf of “big money” and police as all interested parties try to grab what they can. Although it would be naïve to say that any issue is close to being finalized or resolved, it is no risk to predict that the bills will get no better and they likely will get worse as they go through changes in committee. Big money does not favor the caregiver community.
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Come to the next Women Grow meeting where a panel of business people and attorneys will discuss how the new laws in Michigan will affect your ability to participate in the medical marijuana market.
When: Thursday December 3, 2015
Time: 8 to 10 p.m.
Where: Bloom City Club, 423 Miller Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Women Grow, founded in 2014 in Denver, Colorado, is a for-profit entity that serves as a catalyst for women to influence and succeed in the cannabis industry as the end of marijuana prohibition occurs on a national scale. Women Grow monthly Signature Networking events connect aspiring and current professionals in the cannabis industry. www.womengrow.com. For more information about the Ann Arbor Chapter, contact Dori Edwards, Ann Arbor Chapter co-chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bloom City Club, sponsor of the monthly Women Grow meetings, is a cannabis education and provisioning center. It is an organization of successful professional business women dedicated to providing the highest-quality medical cannabis, outstanding customer service, and the most valuable information to its registered medical patients. For more information, contact Colleen Tracy, General Manager, email@example.com, (734) 585 0621, www.bloomcityclub.com.