Licenses Available Under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act

Michigan recently changed or amended the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA).  This three-bill package has an effective date of December 20, 2016.  Together this three-bill package amended the “old” MMMA and created two new Acts. These are the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, and the Medical Marihuana Tracking Act.

Many of the changes relate to the regulatory aspect of MMMA.  These changes were needed because the MMMA as originally written and passed contained very little guidance relative to the “business” of medical marijuana.  This three-bill package seeks to create a regulatory structure within which medical marijuana may be lawfully grown, processed, packaged, transported and sold.

In developing these laws, Michigan’s lawmakers looked at many of the regulatory aspects and structures contained within the Michigan Liquor Control Code (MLCC).  Needless to say, alcohol is another legal drug whose production, transportation and sale is tightly controlled, so it made sense to use existing laws as a template for medical marijuana.

Regulatory changes to the MMMA include creating and requiring separate licenses for persons involved in different parts of a commercial medical marijuana grow operation or delivery system.  This includes, for example, licenses for different locations. With the new medical marijuana laws Michigan also now limits the number of licensed medical marijuana facilities that might be permitted within the confines of a particular city, township or village.

However, in the midst of all the changes, some licensing aspects of the original law stayed the same; so registered primary caregivers and patients don’t need a license to grow relatively small amounts of medical marijuana.  As indicated, these changes are for commercial or relatively large-scale producers of medical marijuana, not for the small time “mom and pop” medical marijuana growers, sellers and users.

The following definitions will help you understand the five different types of licenses available:

Grower – a person whose license allows them to cultivate and process medical marijuana for sale. Three different licenses are available and these depend on or are a function of the amount grown.  This part of the law does not apply to someone who is a registered primary caregiver.

Processor – unlike a grower, a processor is a place that is licensed, a commercial facility, that buys the medical marijuana who does the actual growing.  The processor can then do things like extracting resin from the marijuana that can be then used to create and package marihuana infused products. These marijuana-infused products care then transferred, in packaged form, to a provisioning center.

Provisioning Center – once the medical marijuana has been grown and processed, the next step in the process is for it to be transported to a provisioning center.  The provisioning center is the retail seller or dispensary. Like growers and processors, there is licensing requirement. Without a license, a provisioning center may not sell directly to patients or caregivers.  More generally, a provisioning center is any commercial property where marihuana is sold at retail to patients or caregivers.

Secure Transporter – as you may have guessed, there is also a licensing requirement for those businesses that transport the marijuana from point A to point B.   So if you want to transport the medical marijuana from the farm to the processing facility and/or from there to the provisioning center, then you need a state license.  A secure transporter does not, however, deliver the marijuana from the provisioning center to the patient or caregiver.

Safety Compliance Center – the new Michigan medical marijuana act also contains provisions for product safety. Those old enough to remember will recall when marijuana was said to be laced with paraquat. Well, Michigan will have none of that, so we now have safety compliance center to test medical marijuana for contaminants. Also, just as alcohol has ABV percentages (alcohol by volume) listed on the label, medical marijuana will also be tested for tetrahydrocannabinol and other cannabinoids, which are the psychoactive ingredients in marijuana.

It is important to remember that just because medical marijuana is “legal” in Michigan, this does not mean that non-license holders can use, possess, transport or sell marijuana.  Even if you’ve done everything else right, if you don’t have a license, and are using or selling medical marijuana, then what you’re doing is illegal.  Furthermore, if you don’t have a license, and are caught doing these things, then you will be prosecuted as a criminal under Michigan’s criminal code because marijuana remains as schedule one drug.

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