Suggested revisions to Michigan’s cannabis caregiver rules spark protest

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A number of cannabis-focused bills recently introduced in the Michigan Legislature – all of which have been widely supported by large-scale cannabis businesses – have been confronted with opposition from irate medical cannabis patients who want to protect the caregiver system from being dabbled with.

Michigan’s revised cannabis legislation is reportedly designed to tackle the state’s illicit cannabis market. Major industry players look set to hit loggerheads with medical cannabis patients and grassroots activists as a direct effect of the proposed caregiver rules. 

Lobbyists have contested against the amended regulations which, they say, are not sufficient to ensure market stability. Additionally, medical cannabis patients believe that the existing program functions perfectly as it is and that the proposed rules merely represent an effort to increase market share.

The trio of bills, which were revealed on September 14, seek to reduce the number of permitted patients per medical cannabis caregiver from five to one. 

What’s more, the bills would reduce the amount of medical cannabis that caregivers can possess at any given time from 15 to five ounces, as well as restrict each caregiver to growing one plant per patient (no more than 12 patients) and 12 for personal caregiver use.

Michigan’s cannabis bills have received support and opposition

One of the most prominent supporters of Michigan’s cannabis caregiver-focused bills was the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association (MCMA). The educational organization prides itself on being a national leader in safe and high-quality cannabis. Members of the MCMA have already invested more than $1 billion into the state’s growing cannabis market.

However, the bill has also received plenty of opposition. Examples of some opponents Include hordes of protestors who appeared at the state capitol, Michigan Caregivers United, the Michigan division of NORML and a handful of the state’s legacy medical cannabis companies. Additionally, one Democratic state lawmaker from Detroit is believed to have protested against the bill.

It remains uncertain as to whether or not the cannabis-focused bills will be adopted into law.

About Michigan’s medical cannabis law

In November 2018, Michigan voters unanimously approved the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA), which legalized the consumption of cannabis for adults 21 and above. As a direct effect of this, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to allow the sale and use of medical and recreational cannabis.

Based on the state’s medical cannabis law, the plant is still listed as a Schedule I controlled substance. However, adults can possess a maximum of 2.5 ounces of cannabis and up to 15 grams of cannabis in concentrated form. Within a private residence, adults can possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis, as well as any cannabis that has been produced by cannabis grown on their premises.

Adults who possess more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis within a residence must conceal it in a secure container. Fines and confiscation applies for first-time offenders. Possession exceeding the aforementioned amount is deemed a misdemeanor. Moreover, possession in or within 1,000 feet of a park is deemed to be a felony or a misdemeanor, contingent on the judge’s discretion. Punishment is served in the form of two years behind bars and a maximum fine of $2,000.