Michigan lawmakers proposed three bills yesterday that aim to reduce what caregivers can provide for medical cannabis patients.
The Michigan legislature returned full-time on September 9, and House Bills 5300, 5301 and 5302 were introduced on September 14. This bill package seeks to alter the Medical Marihuana Act, which was initially implemented in 2008. If passed, the bills would reduce caregiver patients from five to only one, and reduce the number of plants a caregiver can grow from 60 to 12, with an additional 12 plants they’re allowed to grow for personal use. One of the bills also creates a license called “specialty medical grower,” which would require a $500 application to get cannabis tested.
According to Mlive.com, these bills were proposed one day before a protest was set to occur. Yesterday, the “Michigan Caregivers United: Rally at the Capitol” protest was held in front of the state capitol in Lansing. The march was held to protest the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturer’s Association (MCMA) and its push to limit caregiver’s allowances for their patients.
“Michigan’s cannabis consumers have lashed out in anger; a boycott of MCMA products and companies affiliated with them has resulted in the resignation of their president, the removal of any reference to individual members on their website, the election of a new board chair to clean up their public relations and the cancellation of orders from MCMA companies by retailers.” The protest has been in the works for some time, with an official press release announcement posted on July 8 in anticipation of these plans.
The MCMA released a study in June through the Anderson Economic Group stating that 70 percent of cannabis sales were made outside of regulated dispensaries, and that illegal sales are the main way that residents are obtaining cannabis.
“Michigan’s unregulated cannabis market poses an immediate threat to the health of all Michiganders, and the Michigan Cannabis Safety Act updates outdated laws to help ensure all Michiganders have access to tested, tracked and labeled cannabis products,” MCMA Board Chair Shelly Edgerton told Mlive.com.
“We look forward to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to bring Michigan’s unregulated, unlicensed cannabis market in line with the rest of the cannabis industry to help ensure safe, high-quality cannabis is available for all Michiganders.”
The MCMA’s website states that the organization represents “nearly half of all multiple Class C cannabis licenses in Michigan,” which is the most expensive license type, and represents the largest cultivation businesses in the state.
Those who oppose this notion argue that caregivers are not responsible for black market sales, and that there’s no good reason to threaten the caregiver system. Over 250 companies have spoken out in favor of supporting the caregiver program as well as small businesses. Companies such as The Botanical Co. released official statements regarding the MCMA.
“We stand with our fellow industry professionals in their efforts to stop the attack on caregivers. It is our belief that our industry thrives when small businesses and caregivers can flourish,” officials said in a statement. “Our customers and patients remain at the core of what we do and to ensure they continue to have access to the products they rely on, we are actively pursuing the sourcing of high quality products from companies that more align with our mission. We encourage local brands to contact us if they are interested in retail space at our stores. Together, we can make a difference and move our industry forward.”
According to the Marijuana Regulatory Agency in a July report, there are 30,229 caregivers in the state and 251,284 medical cannabis patients that they serve. A majority of these patients suffer from conditions such as chronic pain, arthritis, muscle spasms and PTSD. Meanwhile, the state is taking many steps toward improving social equity and supporting residents’ rights to consume while off the job.