Cannabis businesses in Michigan must now go through a new application and resource process via the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency as of today.
In a press release, the agency explained that the new rules are there to “implement, administer and enforce appropriate standards for marijuana businesses and associated equipment and establish regulations ensuring the safety, security, and integrity of the operation of marijuana businesses and are intended to provide clarity and consistency to those working in both the medical and adult-use markets.”
The bill responsible for making this change originally would have also allowed the spouses of those in state government roles to obtain cannabis licenses, but the bill has been amended. Now, the focus is on updated requirements for licensing and operations. It also lists new rules for testing cannabis-infused products like edibles.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Julie Alexander, and legislators broadly supported the amended bill, approving it in a 100-9 vote. However, some people are upset that these bills focus on regulations and government oversight instead of change to the criminal records policy, which disproportionately impacts people of color.
Justice Still Needs To Be Done
Under current law, anyone with a misdemeanor drug conviction from the past five years cannot get a license, and felony convictions block applicants for ten years. This applies to medical cannabis only, but many feel that it’s still in poor taste not to reform who has access to the industry first and foremost.
Because of that, some Michigan cannabis companies are trying to make a difference by offering discounts to those with a drug-related felony or misdemeanor on their records. While not the same thing as pardoning offenses or allowing people into the industry, the businesses hope to show solidarity with those who have been hurt by the war on drugs.
Known as the Redemption Discount, this deal is being offered by Pharmhouse Wellness in Grand Rapids, The Botanical Co. in East Tawas, and Om of Medicine in Ann Arbor. Those with felonies get 10 percent off, and those with misdemeanors receive 5 percent off.
“This discount program is just one of the many ways we plan on supporting the cannabis reform movement,” Botanical Company CEO Russ Chambers said in a statement. “It’s wrong that people with cannabis charges on their records continue to be punished at a time when we have full legalization in this state.”
It’s clear that Michigan still has a way to go before they will have equity within their cannabis industry, but the combination of new regulations and solidarity within the industry is putting them on track for success when the time for more reform arrives.