New medical marijuana licensing rules take effect Dec. 15
Last year on Dec. 20, the Medical Marijuana Facility Licensing Act, or MMFLA, bill was passed in the Michigan legislature. The bill will become effective on Dec. 15 of this year. Growers, processors, transporters, provisioning centers and safety compliance facilities within the medical marijuana industry will be able to begin applying for licenses under the act on that date.
Enforced under the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, or LARA, and the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board, the aim of this act is to protect patients and to implement fair and efficient regulations. These new regulations include information on everything from license cost, prohibitions and product testing.
“There’s been a lot of confusion with the old marijuana laws with how that's done," LARA spokesman David Harns said. "By giving a regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry to exist under we’re making it so that everybody has a level playing field, everybody has to follow the same rules, there will be standards and there will be regulation basically that allows businesses to be able to compete on a level playing field and consumers to be able to trust that products coming out of these businesses won’t cause them harm.”
As for the existing facilities, according to the press release, those that will continue to operate after Dec. 15 having not been licensed under MMFLA will be considered as a potential limitation to the ability to become licensed. The date of Dec. 15 has been given to allow existing operations to "wind down" and give time for patients to establish connections to ensure they will continue to have access to medical marijuana.
The owner from a Lansing dispensary who asked to remain anonymous worries that some patient's access to what they need may be affected in this process.
"I've always leaned towards taking care of the patients," they said. "You have the right to uninterrupted access to your medication. So if they don't have it, when they have the right to it, then where else should you get it?"
According to Harns, LARA hopes to clear up confusion regarding dispensaries with this act.
“The main issue that everyone’s been talking about for months now are the dispensaries that are currently open and the fact that by the state law they aren’t licensed, at this point they’re not allowed under the 2008 law," Harns said. "That was why the legislation was passed, to hopefully clean up and clear up that situation.”
Though LARA aims to make business more fair and efficient with this regulatory framework, the Lansing dispensary owner feels poorly represented as someone in the industry.
“I think that there’s a lot of people on (The Medical Marijuana Licensing Board) that don’t understand anything about marijuana," they said.
But lately, they have been noticing that at meetings members of the board have been taking the time to call up industry experts for questions and comments.
“That was the first opportunity that I feel that the board has had to receive input from both legal counsels and councils for the medical marijuana industry," they said "These are patients trying to make you understand that we brought forth a movement and it allows for uninterrupted access to medical marijuana for patients.”
LARA has also announced the details of educational sessions that will be held to familiarize facilities that wish to apply for a license with the process.
“We don’t like hope for things. Our task we’re doing is implementing the law," Harns said. "This law is moving us from a time where we had the 2008 law in place to a time that we have both of these laws in place. All we’re doing is setting up the proper regulatory framework... so that consumers and businesses can both be safe and successful in the Michigan economy for medical marijuana.”