Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Vetoes Several Medical Cannabis Bills

The governor of Michigan vetoed 11 bills including three that would amend the state’s medical cannabis system.
Courtesy of Associated Press/Paul Sancya

Calling them rushed, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently vetoed 11 bills including three medical cannabis bills, with others related to retirement and tax. The governor did however sign into law six other bills approved by the Legislature. 

Michigan Advance reports that Whitmer said in her veto letter to the Legislature on Dec. 22 that the bills “were rushed through a lame duck session and need closer examination.”

Whitmer vetoed a few Republican-sponsored medical cannabis bills that would have made some changes to the processing and distribution of cannabis.

Rep. Roger Hauck (R – Union Township) introduced two bills that were vetoed: House Bill 5871, which would have amended state law to ease access to medical cannabis products, making them easier to be transferred from one facility to another. HB 5871 would also prohibit a background check of an applicant’s spouse under certain circumstances. 

House Bill 5965, on the other hand, would have updated some language and definitions in the state’s Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, such as the title for the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA).

Another medical cannabis-related bill was vetoed. House Bill 5839, introduced by Rep. Pat Outman (R – Six Lakes), would have prevented the CRA from denying a person a license to sell cannabis based on their spouse’s job, including if their spouse works for the state or federal government.

“I look forward to working with the new Legislature in January on priorities that will continue our economic momentum, help lower costs, and expand education supports for Michigan students. It is time to be serious about solving problems and getting things done that will make working families’ lives better right now,” Whitmer wrote in her veto letter last month. 

Several other bills were vetoed such as bill package HB 42634266, which would have required that retirement systems for public school employees, state employees, judges, and state police to pay off debt over time in equal installments.

HB 4188, introduced by Rep. Thomas Albert (R – Lowell), would have amended the state’s Public School Employees Retirement Act. Several other bills were vetoed as well.

Michigan’s Cannabis Industry

The governor doesn’t want rushed bills coming to her desk. Part of the concern may be due to other nagging problems, despite production taking off into high numbers. Politico reports, for example, that the number of Michigan cannabis plants is roughly six times the volume seen in 2020, causing a serious oversupply problem.

The price of cannabis in the Michigan adult-use market plunged about 75%, from nearly $400 an ounce to less than $100 over the past two years. That drop in price triggered some industry officials to call for a moratorium on cultivation licenses.

MLive reports that 2022 was a good year for customers, on the other hand, who are paying prices much lower than normal this year. 

According to November 2022 numbers, the average retail cost for an ounce of cannabis plummeted to a record low of $95 with some strains falling to near $60 per ounce in retail cannabis stores.

Retail cannabis sales are doing fantastic—on track to surpass $2 billion in annual tax revenue.

Last August, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer replaced outgoing former Cannabis Regulatory Agency Director Andrew Brisbo, who helped launch the state’s adult-use marijuana in December 2019, with Director Brian Hanna.

This year, the Democratic party is in control of both the Michigan House and Senate in Michigan’s Legislature. 2023 marks the first year Democrats will hold the majority since 1984. Michigan’s House is adjourned until Wednesday, Jan. 11.

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