Are Michigan cannabis farmers about to hit gold? Or will their state’s law enforcement do everything in their power to shut them down before they can reach their full potential?
A New Green Rush?
The powers-that-be in the state aren’t holding back their opinion that cannabis is no good.
Officially, authorities in Michigan are wasting no effort in discouraging the state’s citizens from seeking solace in legal medical cannabis. Or discouraging Michigan cannabis farmers.
The state’s attorney general has gone on record declaring the state’s decade-old medical-marijuana laws are a cloak to disguise drug cartels. Law-enforcement is acting accordingly.
A gang of drug cops just north of Detroit has earned a notorious reputation for using military-style tactics and gear when pursuing cases against registered marijuana patients. The target of one raid was an active sheriff’s deputy who committed the crime of having cannabis-infused butter in his home. He later took his own life.
The state’s hundreds of marijuana dispensaries have become prime targets for law enforcement, who require no more “investigation” than perusing ads in the local press.
Even the bureaucrats tasked with guiding the state’s medical-cannabis program are hostile: Their official plan for licensing marijuana activity in the state is predicated on shutting that activity down for as long as six months. Consequently, this would leave patients who actually need the stuff with no alternate supply of medicine aside from the black market.
And it’s not working. At all. This state loves weed.
Michigan Cannabis Farmers
Michigan looks like a near-lock to legalize recreational marijuana next year.
A college in the state’s far-north Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior is offering an undergraduate degree in “medicinal plant chemistry,” Ivory Tower-speak for “majoring in weed science.”
And despite the bureaucratic wrangling, the fees, the delays and a bellicose federal Justice Department, state officials are preparing for a rush of up to thousands of would-be licensed medical cannabis entrepreneurs, once the application period for licensing opens Dec. 15.
The Great Northern Green Rush
As the Detroit Free Press reported, cannabis is expected to be a $700 million a year game right out of the gate. And this is before marijuana is available to all comers 21 and over.
Authorities aren’t sure exactly how many hopefuls, including Michigan cannabis farmers, will seek a business license in this sector, but they predict it could be in the thousands. Almost 1,000 people signed up for official, state-sponsored training. This figure is according to Shelly Edgerton, the director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
As of last year, there were just shy of 219,000 medical marijuana cardholders in the state. People who, despite the clear message sent by law enforcement, obtained a physician’s note for a serious illness. Under Michigan’s original marijuana laws, those people had to rely on 38,100 caregivers. Each caregiver could supply medicine to no more than five people.
Now, the state will offer five different medical marijuana licenses. Dispensaries, transporters, testers, processors and cultivators. Additionally, Michigan cannabis farmers will be able to grow up to 1,500 plants, according to the Free Press.
It’s not clear how quickly the state will hand out licenses after the application period begins on Dec. 15. It’s also not clear what medical marijuana patients are supposed to do in the meantime.
This “gap period” is causing a stir in the state legislature. Cannabis patients and their loved ones have crammed committee hearings. They have made their case that their seizures, cancer and other serious ailments won’t take a break once authorities turn off their official cannabis supply on Dec. 15. This is the date when dispensaries are supposed to close while their license applications are processed.
The legislature owns at least some of the blame for the current conflict.
They apparently failed to recognize the need for a transition period. Now recognizing this serious problem, some humanitarian lawmakers are now pushing to allow dispensaries some kind of temporary permit to keep the flow of medicine going.
Final Hit: Michigan Expects Rush of Thousands of Legal Cannabis Farmers
Seems basic, and simple to fix. Wrong! Like everywhere and everything else when colossal sums of money are involved, the prospect of a fortune built on marijuana is bringing out the very best in us all.
Proponents of this black-out period include Steve Linder. He’s a Republican political consultant working with a group of marijuana entrepreneurs called the “Michigan Responsibility Council.”
For them, “responsibility” is shutting down the industry entirely until the state doles out its official permits.
This is prompting accusations of a public-private cabal. Or, as we call it in America, “business as usual.”
“What millionaires are you working for and who wants a monopoly in this business?” Sen. Rick Jones asked Linder. Jones is a Republican and one of the sponsors of the reasonable, common-sense plan to allow dispensaries to remain open with temporary permits after Dec. 15.
This sounds like discord. No! It’s discourse. And a sign that in Michigan, cannabis is following the same boilerplate script obeyed in Colorado, Washington, California and beyond. The Great Lakes’ great Green Rush is just beginning.