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Michigan News - June 2019

Medical Marijuana Delivery Services Granted Licenses

Three licensed provisioning centers in Michigan, BotaniQ and Utopia Gardens of Detroit, and Lake Effect of Portage, have been granted licensing to launch the state’s first legal home delivery services. “We know a lot of the patients we’re going to be delivering to -- a lot of them are in wheelchairs,” said Jevin Weyenberg, general manager of Lake Effect in Portage. “Convenient access to medicine -- you can never put a price on that. It’s life-saving for some people.”

Patients will only be able to receive the maximum daily allowance of 2.5 ounces, and delivery will only be permitted to the patient’s home address, which also must match the address on their medical card. Delivery services will be permitted within municipalities that have opted out of cannabis based businesses. Each provisioning center must hire their own delivery drivers, carefully document all inventory, as well as track the delivery with GPS.

Wayenberg further stated, “It’s the first time it’s ever been done in the state of Michigan legally, We want to make sure everything is secure … we want to make sure we’re a hard target for any criminal that might try anything.” Once their program is officially launched Lake Effect will take deliveries throughout Kalamazoo county.
Utopia Gardens, on Detroit’s east side near Belle Isle, will be offering online ordering services, and will deliver within a 20 mile radius including Ferndale, Royal Oak, Birmingham and Plymouth. “Patients are getting tested product -- licensed, tested product. The quality is there, the test results are there, The patients are getting quality drugs and we’re delivering them in a safe manner.” said owner Stuart Carter.

While you can find various delivery services on websites such as Weedmaps, those services are all operating outside of the state’s regulatory control. Both Weyenberg and Carter hope that their licensed service will help to cut down on the black market delivery services. “We want to be able to compete with them. They are taking some of the business via that route because there’s demand for it,” Weyenberg said of Weedmaps. “There’s just a massive amount of demand, and the demand manifests itself in a lot of different ways. Delivery is one of them.”

State Launches Online Medical Marijuana Certification Approvals

Beginning in May the state began to allow for online medical marijuana certifications. Medical marijuana patients applying online, will receive instant approval or denial, and can use their approval email to purchase medicine at provisioning centers accompanied by a valid state issued driver’s license or identification card. The approval email will remain valid until the hard card has arrived, or for 10 days after the date of the approval. In order to use the online service, a patient must first register for an online account, as well as the physician that is approving the patient for their card. Once both Physician and Patient have successfully created their online profiles, they can submit the online application.

“A process that used to take several weeks now can be done in a single day,” said MRA Executive Director Andrew Brisbo. “We are excited to offer this new online approval option for the state’s medical marijuana patients.”

State Police To Crack Down On Cannabis Black Market

The Michigan State Police have announced that they intend to really crack down on illegally ran, black market cannabis businesses that have been recently blossoming at the expense of legally ran cannabis businesses. The Marihuana and Tobacco Investigation Section are teaming up with law enforcement and prosecutors to begin targeting the illegal businesses. 

Since the passing of recreational laws in November, black market numbers have soared, including more than 200 illegal services listed on Weedmaps alone. The black market rush has severely impacted, and undercut the state sanctioned businesses that pay tens of thousands in legal fees, licensing fees, and taxes. Some provisioning centers have reported up to a 40 percent decrease in sales since the recreational laws were passed in November. Weedmaps does not require proof of licensing in order to advertise on their platform, and as a result many lobbyists are now pushing for licensing proof to be provided before any business within the state can advertise on any platforms within the state.

In an attempt to figure out how to approach the illicit market, legal experts have began talks with the State Attorney General’s office to help law enforcement interpret the new recreational cannabis laws and regulations. One of those experts is Barton Morris, an attorney with the Cannabis Legal Group of Royal Oak whom stated “There is so much confusion about what is lawful and what is not, and there is so much disagreement about how to enforce the law. The black market has been significantly growing and growing and growing. They are all trying to sell as much as they possibly can before law enforcement cracks down.” 

Lansing Says Medical Marijuana Won’t Bring In As Much Revenue As Expected

Officials in Lansing are saying that despite the influx of hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical marijuana licensing fees, the medical marijuana program will not be a main money maker for the city. Stating that the cost of running a medical marijuana program will cancel out the revenue brought in from these fees, and that additionally the state excise tax that was implemented is slated to bring in less revenue as expected due to the passing of the recreational laws.

However, Lansing is not actually able to legally turn a profit from the fees and, businesses ultimately need licensing in order to grow, test, transport or sell cannabis products. Now Lansing officials are under pressure to prove that they are not turning a profit from said fees. If a city assess any fee collected as revenue, it is then considered a tax versus a fee, which requires voter approval.

Currently, Lansing is collecting $5,000 annually (the highest amount allowed under the  Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act) from licensed businesses. They are projecting only around $200,000 in the fiscal year of 2019, by stark contrast to the more than $730,000 collected in 2018 at the beginning of the state’s licensing program. They do anticipate that for the fiscal year of 2020 that number should increase to approximately $500,000 however.

These projected numbers were pulled from an executive budget proposal which is up for approval by the City Counsel later his month. As this is the first time an executive budget has been proposed, it is difficult to measure the true cost of the medical marijuana program, however they anticipate that legal costs alone will approximate close to $75,000 for the next fiscal year.

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