Amidst the medical marijuana rule changes and regulations that seem to be continuously being discussed among members of the Michigan legislature, there are several groups who have plans for the legal medical marijuana industry. One particularly active group is the Michigan Responsibility Council (MRC), “a not-for-profit, professional association consisting of business people, community activists and people from across the state who are dedicated to the safe, legal and responsible cultivation, transference and use of cannabis by qualified medical patients.”
“We support HB 4209, HB 4210 and 4827 with modifications,” says Suzie Mitchell, President and CEO of the MRC. Ms. Mitchell went on to further explain the council’s efforts in a recent statement given to Hybrid.Life, saying:
“We are working with Michigan legislators in hopes of modifying HB 4209 to contain two classes of growers-Class A for cultivators of 500 plants and above; and Class B for cultivators of 499 plants and below.
- We recommend a cap on the Class A licenses to be in the legislation. We also recommend that Class A licence owners meet strict criteria– similar to those, required in other highly regulated industries.
- We recommend that the number and criteria of Class B licenses (growers of 499 plants and fewer) be set by the new state Medical Marijuana Board.
We are only concerned with reforming the medical marijuana laws so all persons have the ability to purchase safe, tested and labeled medicine.
The MRC has not asked for any change to the caregiver model.”
Although there had been discussion of the MRC proposing a recreational ballot initiative themselves at one point, the group has now decided to focus more on reforming medical marijuana laws, rather than adding to the legalization efforts of several other groups now petitioning to place a vote for cannabis legalization in November of 2016. It is understandable that the MRC would want to focus on working with legislators to establish fair rules for the safe and responsible cultivation, dispensation, and transport of medical marijuana for patients in Michigan. However, it is questionable whether more layers of legislation and the modifications to HB 4209 recommended by the MRC would really make the situation any better.
One big question all along this road to more regulation is what will happen to the caregiver model of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), which the MRC is sure to say they aren’t proposing to change? As it stands now, this approach is what many have grown accustomed to, even though a number of unauthorized dispensaries have been allowed to exist across the state as well. Still, many municipalities don’t tolerate these storefront medical dispensaries, and local authorities in several Michigan communities have taken measures to shut them down.
On the surface, this legislative action seems to be primarily about setting guidelines for the dispensing of medical marijuana. However, with the other two bills, HB 4210 and HB 4827 involved, it becomes a little more clear that these efforts are really more about the inevitable recreational cannabis industry that will emerge when voters go to polls this November. As the Detroit Free Press Editorial Board has duly noted,
“The new regulations, which are likely to come to a vote in the state Senate later this fall, are more than a belated fix for medical marijuana. They also reflect Lansing’s grudging acknowledgment that Michigan will soon join the growing list of states whose voters have decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana, and must start preparing now to manage the profound disruptions legalized pot will create here.”
HB 4827 would set up a “seed to sale” tracking system for the licensed growers that would be defined and regulated under HB 4209, and HB 4210 would amend the original 2008 Michigan Medical Marihuana Act to include the allowance and regulation of “marihuana-infused” products. The three of these pieces of legislation taken together do look an awful lot like government preparations for bigger things to come. This wouldn’t actually be a bad thing if didn’t smell so much like the state of Michigan is being primed for a corporate takeover of the current medical industry and the future recreational industry that is sure to come. And thus are the many problems that arise when business and politics are so intimately intertwined.
It is quite apparent that many misguided and underhanded tactics have been employed by the current Snyder administration, which has been mismanaging the state’s executive office as of late. Between the Flint water crisis, which the Governor only recently declared an emergency for after months of problems for the people in that city, to the bill he recently signed that has many worried it will limit public knowledge of ballot initiatives, it seems that Michigan’s governmental leadership is not exactly well positioned to take on any new challenges. Hopefully voters will take the cue to step up and initiate the best legislation or perhaps enact a constitutional amendment that will truly represent and fulfill the true desires and will of the people.