A package of bi-partisan bills introduced in Michigan on Tuesday would reduce the number of patients allowed per medical cannabis caregiver from five to just one, which would also limit the amount of plants caregivers could grow at one time from 60 to 12, MLive reports.
The reforms are backed by the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association, which released a study in June that estimated about two-thirds of all cannabis sales in the state occur outside of the legal market.
The report by Anderson Economic Group found that in 2020, 30% of Michigan cannabis sales—or about $930,000—were driven by caregivers and medical cannabis cultivation at home. The report also found that 39% of sales, or about $1.2 million, were from illegal sales and adult-use cultivation. Comparatively, the report estimates that adult-use sales at dispensaries represented $510,700 in sales—15% of the market share—while medical cannabis sales at dispensaries comprised about 16% of the market, or about $474,000.
Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association Board Chair Shelly Edgerton told MLive that the state’s “unregulated cannabis market poses an immediate threat to the health of all Michiganders, and the Michigan Cannabis Safety Act updates outdated laws to help ensure all Michiganders have access to tested, tracked, and labeled cannabis products.”
“We look forward to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to bring Michigan’s unregulated, unlicensed cannabis market in line with the rest of the cannabis industry to help ensure safe, high-quality cannabis is available for all Michiganders.”—Edgerton via MLive
Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association Director Steve Linder, who is a former Republican lobbyist, described the supply of cannabis not in the licensed marketplace as “huge” and untested.
“People are not employing, they’re not investing in infrastructure, they’re not paying taxes,” he said in the report. “So, we have to get at the unregulated supply and that law needs to be passed. And we’re going to lead the charge.”
Jamie Lowell, the director of social responsibility and advocacy at the Botanical Company, said that caregivers are not responsible for the state’s oversupply of illicit cannabis.
“There is no good reason to create any further restriction or burdens on the current caregiver system,” Lowell told MLive. “There is no health or other issues warranting any prohibitive changes to caregivers.” She added that the proposals didn’t include input from “important stakeholders” and that “it seems as if it is common knowledge in Lansing that Steve Linder and the (Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association) are behind” the proposed bill package.
Rick Thompson, a caregiver supporter and director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Michigan chapter, described the push as a “smoke and mirrors game.”
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