The past month has featured a public showdown between licensed medical marijuana businesses and the unlicensed dispensaries and caregivers that continue to prop up the market.
Here’s the gist: Large growers regulated by the state (i.e. companies that have paid tens of thousands of dollars in fees) are pissed at caregivers who continue to supply dispensaries with cheaper pot, also framing it as a safety issue that untested product is hitting the market.
Caregivers say they’re providing a necessary service as licensed grow companies get their supply chains in order. Caregivers also say the companies — like Green Peak Innovations and their friends at the Great Lakes Cannabis Chamber of Commerce — are being disingenuous by claiming caregivers’ craft weed is suddenly unsafe, never mind that over the past decade they’ve supplied medical marijuana patients and no injuries have been reported.
The Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, the state’s largest weed trade group, says the situation could take six months to a year to sort itself out and that it isn’t taking sides on the issue. However, the group’s executive director and longtime cannabis reform advocate Robin Schneider told Revue sister publication MiBiz last month: “It is really not OK for any company to message that marijuana is unsafe, as far as I’m concerned.”
The standoff comes amid court rulings, proposed legislation and the Whitmer administration’s plan to cut through the regulatory shit and get businesses approved. As of press time, the state Marijuana Regulatory Agency (also created under Whitmer’s orders) had approved four new licenses between May 6-10, upping the total number of licenses statewide to 187.
The four new licenses include three dispensaries in Grayling, Nunica and Muskegon. In May, the state also approved the first three licenses for home delivery from dispensaries, including one in Portage.
As the state resolves that last of its outstanding license applications, a Michigan State Police unit says it will begin cracking down on unlicensed activity, the Detroit News reports. Forty detectives and “civilian analysts” will be seeking out illegal activity as well as “gifting” services that have popped up since recreational use was legalized. Consider this a warning the next time you pay $80 for a stack of used books with a quarter ounce of pot on the side.
Keeping with the historically illicit nature of marijuana, state and federal policymakers have been rightfully targeting banking barriers. Traditionally a cash-only business, marijuana could become even more mainstream when it’s allowed banking services like any other business, advocates say.
A bipartisan group of state lawmakers introduced a resolution supporting the federal Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would prevent regulators from penalizing banks over marijuana transactions if they’re legal in the state. Attorney General Dana Nessel applauded the lawmakers and recognizes the problem, joining 38 other attorneys general in showing support for allowing marijuana businesses to use the federal banking system.
Nessel in May also created a diverse marijuana law work group to analyze medical and recreational pot laws. There should be plenty of grist for the mill.
With Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer in the rearview mirror, nothing says Pure Michigan like kayaking, camping and … cannabis.
Bud and Breakfast — a website tracking pot-friendly vacation rentals across the globe — lists a few locations in Michigan, including Manistee Farms CannaVentures in the small village of Luther northeast of Baldwin. It describes itself as a “working organic marijuana farm” where guests apparently stay in “fully equipped campers.”
The only house rules? “Always socialize with kindness, empathy and grace.” Ah, the great outdoors.
— Compiled by Andy Balaskovitz