Michigan Expands Access to Medical Cannabis Licenses

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed legislation expanding the number of people eligible for medical cannabis licenses, including those with cannabis-related criminal charges.

Full story after the jump.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has signed legislation expanding the number of people eligible for medical cannabis licenses, including those previously barred due to a cannabis-related misdemeanor or felony. The bill includes an exception for individuals convicted of selling cannabis to a minor.

The bill also allows spouses of elected or state-employed individuals to obtain a medical cannabis industry license. The law automatically excludes from license eligibility an applicant who holds certain elective offices (state, local, or federal), is a member of or employed by a governmental regulatory body, employed by the state of Michigan, and spouses of individuals that work for any cannabis regulatory agency.

The bill was introduced by Republican state Rep. Julie Alexander, who said after the Senate passed the bill that previous medical cannabis industry licensing rules unfairly restricted “small-business owners married to government employees, regardless of whether an actual conflict [of interest] exists.”

“Our laws have unfairly and arbitrarily kept the spouses of state employees out of a business market. Although well-intentioned, the restriction roped in many families that had no actual conflict of interest. The old system didn’t make sense; this new change will help small-business owners while maintaining important, but fair, ethical protections.” Alexander in a November 5 statement

Steve Linder, executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association, told Interlochen Public Radio in October that, while the organization did not take an official position on the bill, it does support allowing people with cannabis-related criminal charges the ability to obtain an industry license.

“There’s been an attitude in the shaping in all of these laws that now that it is legal, unless you are convicted of other types of crimes, and you had served your time on behalf of society, that there really should be no future barrier to you participating,” he told IPR.

Under the state’s 2016 Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, anyone convicted of a felony within the previous 10 years or a misdemeanor within the last 5 years was prohibited from obtaining a state license.

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