Lansing approves grassroots proposal to Regulate Cannabis Like Alcohol, Governor Snyder appoints State Licensing Board to regulate Medical Cannabis, and Detroit Startup Week highlights the economic opportunities and progress being made in the Michigan Medical Cannabis Industry.

 

The Cannabis Industry in Michigan has a murky past over the last decade largely due to the Caregiver framework approved by voters in 2008. Nevertheless, significant steps have been taken to progress our State’s Cannabis policy over the month of May.

A grassroots campaign to collect signatures to regulate marijuana like alcohol was approved by the State, Governor Snyder choose the five-person Licensing Board to properly structure the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA), and a global Financial Institution held two panel sessions on the state of the cannabis market for entrepreneurs and startups in Detroit, Michigan.

In this post, Mora Mota Group will highlight the major moves that have taken place in the Michigan that involve Cannabis over the last month and discuss the future trajectory of the Cannabis Industry in the State of Michigan.

 

Adult-Use Ballot Proposal

After a failed attempt in 2015 to legalize Cannabis for adult-use, the campaign to legalize Cannabis for adult-use is back in action. On May 5th, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol submitted a ballot proposal to the Michigan State Board of Canvassers, which was then approved by the Board on May 19th. This new opportunity requires the grassroots campaign to collect 252,523 valid signatures from registered Michigan voters within a 180 day window in order to put the proposal in front of voters on the 2018 ballot.

The ballot proposal would permit the Michigan Department of Licensed and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to promulgate the regulation and licensing of adult-use Cannabis businesses that would include: State-licensed cultivation, processing, testing, transportation, and retail entities; establish a 10% excise tax on Cannabis sales; allow municipalities the opportunity to opt-out of licensing Cannabis businesses; restrict possession amounts of adult-use Cannabis; and apportion Cannabis tax revenue as such: 35% to roads, 35% to K-12 schools, 15% to communities and 15% to Counties permitting licensed establishments, while communities that choose to opt-out will be apportioned zero tax revenue.

While Governor Snyder signed the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) in September 2016 to legitimize the Medical Cannabis Industry in Michigan, Mora Mota Group believes that the time is ripe to fully legalize Cannabis for adult-use in Michigan, and we fully endorses the approved ballot language and the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol campaign.

 

Appointment of Medical Marijuana Licensing Board

After the MMFLA officially went into law in December 2016, Governor Snyder was tasked with choosing individuals that would properly promulgate the rules under the Act. Just over two months past his initial March deadline, on May 26th, Governor Snyder appointed five board members to the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board. These appointments will lead the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (BMMR) in establishing the rules and regulations under the MMFLA.

The Medical Marijuana Licensing Board consists of Chairman of the Board Rick Johnson, former Republican Michigan Speaker of the House; Nichole Cover, Health Care Supervisor at Walgreens; Donald Bailey, a retired Michigan State Police Sergeant; David LaMontaine, a Business Agent with the Police Officer’s Association of Michigan; and Vivian Pickard, CEO of Pickard Group.

The intent of the MMFLA is to regulate the Michigan Medical Cannabis Industry in order to broaden patient access, increase competition in the market, and ensure higher quality products through State-licensed Testing labs. Establishing a formal application and licensing process for State-legal Medical Cannabis businesses will help put an end to the “wild west” scenario created by the Caregiver Model passed by voters in 2008. Although various jurisdictions across Michigan currently allow for locally licensed businesses to operate, many of these entities are preparing for the new rules and regulations in order to comply with the formal Application Process that will be finalized by December 2017.

 

Detroit Tech Startup Week

During the week of May 22-26, Chase Bank sponsored the First Annual Detroit Startup Week, hosting sessions related to entrepreneurship, design, fintech, investor relations, music, and even the Internet of Things. There were over 3,300 attendees, a record-breaker for a year one startup week, who participated in panel sessions, networking events, and received a warm welcome from the Detroit Business community.

As the legal Cannabis market presents a highly attractive but volatile career opportunity for all walks of life, there were two cannabis related panels held during the afternoon of May 25th; the two sessions included the “Cannabis Industry: Jobs and Economics” and “Diversity, Policy and Advocacy in Cannabis” panels. During each session, local cannabis activists, consultants, lawyers, dispensary businesses owners, and ancillary businesses providing services to plant-touching businesses weighed in on the market conditions, issues and solutions involved in the Michigan Cannabis Industry.

While there were flurries of questions from attendees related to ownership, licensing, zoning and the recently approved ballot campaign to legalize adult-use cannabis, many questions were left half answered. However, many unanswered questions will be determined in the upcoming months as the MMLB finalizes the regulations for State-licensed businesses in Michigan.

 

Conclusion

As a flurry of action has taken place over the past month relating to the Cannabis Industry in Michigan, decisions are being made over the next six months that will change the face of the Industry for years to come. After the maturing Medical Cannabis Industry received the blessing from the State to support regulated entities in December 2016, startups and entrepreneurs throughout Michigan are eagerly awaiting to participate in this lucrative Industry.

As the public become increasingly aware of the changing laws regarding Cannabis in the Michigan, Mora Mota Group believes that a change in perspective will follow as the Medical Cannabis market in Michigan transitions into a properly formulated and structured Industry. Additionally, as the State promulgates the regulations for local jurisdictions to follow, municipalities will soon follow the State’s lead, and time will tell whether local communities are comfortable with State licensed Medical Cannabis entities in their business community.

 

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