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Michigan News for December 2018 - by Meghan Smith

Congratulations Michigan!

As I am sure you have heard by now, on November 6th, an entire decade after the passing of The Michigan Medical Marihuana Program, Michigan voters made history by not only becoming the 10th state in the U.S. to pass recreational cannabis laws, but also the very first state in the entire midwest. Garnering 55.6 percent of the votes, the proposal will go into effect in early December, once the State Board of Canvassers certifies the election. The Proposal, spearheaded by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will help to generate a much needed tax revenue for Michigan, that will be used to fund schools, improve roads, and will also help to create jobs.

The proposal will allow Michigan residents 21 and over to grow up to 12 plants per household, in an enclosed and locked area, and not visible to the public, as well as allows for up to 10 ounces in locked containers in their homes. Individuals will be allowed to transport up to 2.5 ounces, or 15 grams of Cannabis concentrates. However, operating a motor vehicle, R.V, aircraft, motor boat, or snowmobile while under the influence, as well as consuming cannabis in public places, will remain illegal. Employers still reserve the right to enforce drug free workplace policies, as well as landlords and leaseholders reserve the right to prohibit the growth and use of Cannabis for tenants.

Local municipalities were given the ability to ban or limit establishments within their boundaries, to which many  have already announced their decision to do so, such as Monroe, Portage, Pinckney, and Troy. Establishments will also be banned from residentially zoned areas, or within 1,000 feet of a public or private school. Currently there is no official word as to when recreational cannabis facility licensing will begin, though facilities are not expected to be opening for public use until some time in 2020. Colleges and Universities will also continue to ban the growth, possession or use of Cannabis on campus, in student housing, and also while attending any off grounds school related functions.

The Medical program will continue to stay in place, with multiple benefits to mmmp cardholders. Patients will still be allowed to grow up to 12 plants per person whereas recreational laws will only allow a total of 12 plants per household. Once retail shops are given the green light to open their doors for recreational sales, there will be a different sales tax bracket as well, for example medical patients will only pay a 6 percent sales tax, whereas recreational customers will spend upwards of 16 percent. Not only will medical patients have a lower tax bracket, but they will also have access to higher potency products as well.

40 Newly Licensed Dispensaries May Have to Close their Doors Until Spring Due to Product Shortage

Currently, there are 40 licensed provisionary centers (licensed Dispensaries) in the state of Michigan, however due to individual municipalities banning commercial marijuana within their boundaries, these facilities are mostly concentrated to the Eastern side of the state, including the Bay City, Flint and Detroit regions, there is currently only 1 licensed provisioning center in the entire Upper Peninsula, which is located in Houghton, as well as only 3 in the South-Western area of the state, concentrated to the Kalamazoo area.

Before obtaining the state mandated licenses, dispensaries were able to purchase products from a vast network of over 40,000 caregivers, however under the new laws, provisioning centers will now only be allowed to purchase product from state licensed cultivators. The newly licensed provisioning centers were allowed a 30 day window after obtaining their licenses to sell out of the products that they purchased from caregivers but at the end of that 30 day period they must destroy any remaining product.

There are approximately 215 unlicensed dispensaries that are operating under emergency rules currently, while they attempt to obtain their licenses, which allows them to continue to purchase their products from caregivers. Originally the state had placed a cut off date of September 14th for dispensaries to obtain licensing, or shut down. These temporary dispensaries sued however, and were able to obtain a court order that placed a new cut off date of October 31st. The temporary dispensaries, again, sued and a judge has overturned that date as well, though the new cut off date has yet to be announced at this time.

Unfortunately, as it stands there are currently only 12 licensed cannabis cultivators in the state of Michigan, which is creating a major shortage of product for the 40 newly licensed dispensaries in the state. Crops take between 4 and 6 months from time of seed plantation until a usable product is produced, and most licenses were not issued until August, which means that these newly licensed dispensaries may be forced to close their doors until spring.

Northern Michigan University introduces Cannabis Cultivation Curriculum 

The cannabis industry is sweeping the United States, 32 states have passed medical marijuana laws, 10 have even passed recreational laws, and more and more states are beginning to follow suit. However, as with any booming industry, there comes a need for highly trained, and skilled workers. In response, several accredited colleges and universities are now offering both credit, and non credit Cannabis courses. The University of Denver offers a course on the Business of Marijuana,
Vanderbilt’s Law School has a Marijuana policy and law course, and the University of California at Davis has an undergraduate course on the physiology of Cannabis. A number of Cannabis specific online schools have begun popping up as well, such as the Cannabis Training University, which facilitates courses online to not only Michigan residents, but also students around the globe.

There has also been an increase in Cannabis based trade schools. For example Michigan-based Med Grow Cannabis College, is a trade school dedicated to the education and training of caregivers, clutivators, retail owners, and even legal education for the medical marijuana industry. GrassRoots University is also another Michigan based school, focused on cultivation and medible baking techniques, and offers both online courses, as well as hands on training.

Northern Michigan University in Marquette however has introduced a new program, Medicinal Plant Chemistry, the first 4 year undergraduate degree program from an accredited University, focused on Marijuana in the U.S. The curriculum is intense, with courses such as organic chemistry, plant physiology, botany, genetics, accounting, physical geography, and financial management. There is also a n advanced analytical course titled chemistry 420, in which students study bioactive compounds, and their plant origins and metabolite chemistry. The program will hold a 50 minute seminar series next semester for students with the major to discuss current events in the cannabis industry including legal issues and financial trends. Each student will be required to choose an article on medicinal plant chemistry and lead a discussion on that topic.

Localities in MI Are Saying 'No' to Recreational Marijuana

Some Michigan communities are already prohibiting adult-use marijuana businesses after voters in the state approved legalization of recreational cannabis.

According to various newspaper reports, Niles City in southwestern Michigan and Pinckney village in the southeastern part of the state have made the decision to opt out, at least at the moment. St. Joseph in southwestern Michigan is expected to make the same decision.

The Detroit Free Press reported that officials at colleges across the state are saying that marijuana won’t be allowed on campuses. Allowing students to smoke cannabis on campus would jeopardize federal funding since marijuana is still illegal federally.

Michigan’s new recreational marijuana law takes effect this month. Municipalities could decide to opt-in later but, if the state’s MMJ industry is an indication, many jurisdictions will choose to prohibit recreational marijuana. recently reported that 108 communities in Michigan have opted out of the state’s medical marijuana program.

Still, despite early holdouts, Marijuana Business Daily projects that Michigan’s recreational marijuana market will reach $1.4 billion-$1.7 billion in annual sales within several years.

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