As regular readers of this blog know, LARA has been extremely busy in the roll-out of the State’s MMFLA program. The last two weeks have seen LARA issue two important Advisory Bulletins, and host five work groups to obtain public input on how to address regulatory topics in the upcoming rules.
We fully expect further pronouncements from LARA as we get closer to the October 17 Medical Marihuana Licensing Board meeting. We also believe that LARA remains on target to issue emergency rules and an application checklist by early November.
Check back with Dykema’s Cannabis Law Blog for further updates.
A Busy Week for Marijuana-Legislation in Michigan!
This week saw Michigan’s Legislature actively involved in marijuana-related legislation.
As we reported Wednesday, 24 members of Michigan’s House of Representatives signed onto newly introduced House Bill 5014, a bill that would:
“Grandfather” currently operating dispensaries and other unlicensed medical marijuana businesses;
Excuse those businesses from the requirement that their local government opt-in to the new licensing framework; and
Mandate that the State’s Medical Marihuana Licensing Board process applications for state operating licenses by August of 2018 (for applications filed by February 15).
On Thursday, two State Senators introduced companion Senate Bills 599 and 600, bills that mirror House Bill 5014. The Republican sponsor, Sen. Rick Jones, was the Senate champion of Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act. Notably, though, while the MMFLA went through the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Jones, these two new bills that would amend the MMFLA were instead referred to the Senate Health Policy Committee.
Apart from the introduction of bills to amend the MMFLA, the Legislature also took action on bills that would restrict billboard advertising and repeal requirements governing the transportation of medical marihuana in vehicles.
The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Senate Bill 463, which would prohibit marijuana-related advertising on billboards. The bill was reported to the floor on a 3-2 vote, with opposition centering on First Amendment concerns. Proponents of the bill responded to those issues by arguing that the State already prohibits tobacco advertising on billboards, and has not faced a legal challenge over that law. What those proponents apparently fail to recognize, however, is that the tobacco advertising restrictions are a result of the Master Settlement Agreement of 1990’s State Attorneys General lawsuits against the tobacco companies—and those companies agreed to the restrictions.
Over on the House side of Michigan’s Legislature, the House Law and Justice Committee voted 10-1 to send House Bill 4606 to the floor. This bill would repeal provisions of the Michigan Penal Code that purport to criminalize the transport of medical marihuana in a vehicle other than in an enclosed case inaccessible to the driver. That law has been the source of both controversy and, in some cases, successful legal challenge, because it regulates activity that is otherwise governed by the State’s voter-initiated Medical Marihuana Act. It does so through a separate statute, instead of via an amendment to the MMMA. Not only is this a constitutional vulnerability, but it also means that Michigan medical marihuana patients cannot simply read the MMMA and understand the rules they must follow.
Check back with Dykema’s Cannabis Law Blog for further updates on Michigan legislative activity.
Michigan House Bill Would “Grandfather” Existing MMJ Businesses—And Override Local Approval Requirements
Posted on September 27, 2017
by Hilary Vigil
Yesterday, State Representative Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor), with 21 House Democrat and 3 Republican co-sponsors, introduced a bill that would allow medical marihuana facilities operating on or before August 15, 2017, to remain open until the State can process and approve license applications under the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA). Lost in media reports about House Bill 5014, however, are two other critical changes the bill would make to the MMFLA, including eliminating requirements for local government approvals.
As we previously reported, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has announced its intent to require in emergency rules that any existing facilities close by December 15, 2017—the day LARA will begin accepting facility license applications—and remain closed until a license is obtained. If a facility remains open after December 15, LARA will consider its continued operation to be “a potential impediment to licensure.” LARA’s position is based on a 2013 Michigan Supreme Court ruling that held that the 2008 Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) does not allow sales of marihuana other than from a caregiver to that caregiver’s maximum of five connected patients. Unless an existing dispensary is following this model, that dispensary’s activity is illegal (as are sales of “overages” from caregivers to dispensaries).
In a statement in support of HB 5014, Rep. Rabhi argued that existing facilities should not need to close during the time it takes LARA to process applications because those facilities have invested in both the care of their patients and in their communities. The bill is touted as a solution to a so-called transition period for existing facilities because it would allow them to become licensed without a gap in service to patients, many of whom claim that they cannot obtain necessary marijuana products through the caregiver framework of the MMMA.
Besides protecting existing facilities during the transition period, however, HB 5014 would also make two other significant changes to the MMMA.
First, for all applicants for licensure who file complete applications before February 15, 2018, the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board would need to make a licensing decision within six months. (LARA has previously stated that licenses should begin to be issued around April 1, 2018, although on a rolling basis as the State works through what could be hundreds of applications.)
Second, and much more consequentially, HB 5014 would change the regulatory structure of the MMFLA in a way that is not readily apparent. The MMFLA establishes a dual regulatory system: both municipalities and the state have authority to license and regulate medical marijuana facilities. Under section 205(1) of the MMFLA, a municipality must adopt an ordinance authorizing each type of medical marihuana facility before a facility can receive a State license. HB 5014 would completely exempt existing facilities from the municipal authorization requirement. Therefore, an existing facility could remain open while it waited for state approval in a municipality that does not authorize—or perhaps even prohibits—the existing facility type.
Thus, while HB 5014 is being widely touted as simply allowing existing dispensaries seeking state licensure to remain open in the interim (a controversial enough topic), the bill actually works a truly fundamental change to the MMFLA. Notably, Rep. Rabhi’s statement describing the legislation says that the provision concerning local approval only “clarifies” that existing dispensaries would not be barred from licensure just by virtue of operating before authorization under a local ordinance became a requirement. But this is not what the language of HB 5014 would do. Instead, it explicitly provides that the local approval requirement does not apply to any applicant that operated before August 15, 2017, and applies for licensure before February 15, 2018.
Whether these issues with HB 5014 will see amendments during the legislative process—or whether HB 5014 has any legs whatsoever—remains to be seen.
Check back with Dykema’s Cannabis Law Blog for updates on HB 5014’s progress.
People smoke different things for different reasons. But smoke tricks are a whole other side of smoking that is starting to intrigue more and more people. It is so enticing to many smokers that they end up visiting an online head shop and getting ready to learn how to do smoke tricks.
There are all kinds of smoke tricks. But obviously, some are a lot easier than others. As a beginner, you don’t have that skill to determine which is considered a hard trick and which isn’t. So we’re going to help you out on that front. Here, we are going to give you some neat examples of easy smoke tricks that every beginner should learn how to do. These are what is considered the first step in becoming a smoke tricks master, so make sure you mater them carefully as you can’t move upward in ranks until you get down everything there is to perfect about these particular tricks.
Smoke Trick #1 The Ghost Inhale
Smoke Tricks “The Ghost” Inhale
The ghost inhales the number one trick you should know as a smoke tricks artists. Its the very first one you should start practicing as well. It’s a really easy trick which will help you understand the fundamentals of smoke tricks a lot faster.
The trick implies that you puff out a ball of smoke which you then rapidly inhale again. Thus creating the appearance of a ghost being inhaled. It goes by some other names as well such as the mushroom cloud. To make things easier for you, keep the smoke in your oral cavity for a little bit before gently letting it out. This will help with creating the puffball effect of smoke which can then be easily inhaled or “snapped” back in.
Smoke Trick #2 The dragon
Smoke Tricks “the Dragon” Exhale
This is a pretty cool one that all beginners want to learn, for good reason. Sadly enough, you can’t be a real dragon, but you can surely fool a friend or two with this awesome trick. In definition, it’s really simple, but in practice, it will take you a bit before you get down the mechanics. The trick revolves around taking a drag without inhaling it. After that, blow it out violently through your nose and both sides of your mouth. This will create a compelling “dragon breath” effect which will make you look vicious.
Smoke Trick #3 The waterfall
This is a little more special because you need a prop to do it. The waterfall revolves around taking a drag, then blowing out the smoke inside a bottle which has frozen water at the bottom. Afterwards, simply turn the bottle upside down and watch as your smoke acts as a heavy curtain which falls gently, like a mysterious waterfall. It’s one of the more elegant tricks you can master, especially so early on.
Michigan Issues Advisory Bulletin on Co-Location of Medical Marihuana Facilities
The State of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) today issued an advisory bulletin confirming that the State will allow growers, processors, and provisioning centers to operate in the same location.
LARA’s Advisory Bulletin is not a final statement of the Department’s position, which will be solidified in emergency rules that are expected to be promulgated in early November. Nevertheless, it provides helpful guidance for those engaged in business planning and preparing to submit license applications. Per the Advisory Bulletin, LARA intends to allow co-location upon satisfaction of the following conditions:
Each licensed entity operates, and posts its license, in distinct and separate working areas.
Each licensed entity has separate entrances and exits, point of sale, and record systems.
The host municipality doesn’t prohibit co-location.
Compliance with health standards and building and fire codes.
Additionally, each grow license, processing license, and provisioning center license will require separate applications (and application fees), regulatory assessments, and license.
Left somewhat open for interpretation is how the above requirements might apply to stacked grow licenses. In other words, if one business holds multiple grow licenses for the same facility, will each grow license need to be wholly separated from one another? We anticipate that these issues will be more comprehensively addressed in the emergency rules.
Check back with Dykema’s Cannabis Law Blog for updates on the upcoming rules.
Michigan News Flash: LARA to Existing Facilities—Close by December 15
As we have reported on numerous occasions, one of the biggest issues as Michigan moves into a regulated system is how the State will treat license applicants who have operated prior to receiving a license.
Members of the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board have repeatedly made clear their view that such facilities are currently illegal, pointing to a 2013 Michigan Supreme Court decision that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act does not permit sales of marihuana other than from a caregiver to his or her maximum five formally connected patients.
The State’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) was asked by the Board to make its recommendation on licensing current operators today. As anyone following the industry in Michigan knows, this has been a source of great controversy. Existing dispensaries and their patients have argued that requiring them to shut down makes it more difficult for patients to acquire marihuana, placing patients at risk. Many potential applicants have argued that the existing dispensaries should not receive a competitive advantage for violating state law, and that by demonstrating contempt for the current law, they are showing that they are unlikely to comply with legal requirements going forward.
This morning, LARA issued a press release stating that it can only take regulatory action concerning existing operators through its emergency rules. LARA has announced that its emergency rules will consider any unlicensed operation after December 15 “as a potential impediment to licensure.” LARA explained that the December 15 date gives existing operators a chance to wind down, and patients time to find other sources for marihuana.
There will undoubtedly be further activity around this issue at today’s Board meeting. Check back with Dykema’s Cannabis Law Blog for updates.
September 12 Michigan Medical Marihuana Board Meeting: December Closure Date for Existing Businesses Likely
A few hours before September 12’s widely anticipated Michigan Medical Marihuana Licensing Board meeting, the State’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) released its intended approach to currently operating dispensaries. As we reported, LARA announced that its forthcoming emergency rules will consider continuing marihuana operations after December 15, 2017, to be “a potential impediment to licensure.”
This issue, of course, dominated the Board meeting. LARA’s Director of the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation, Andrew Brisbo, explained to the Board that the Board cannot act by motion to set policy, or to close dispensaries. Rather, per LARA’s discussions with the Michigan Attorney General’s office, policy must be set by rules. Although LARA must consult with the Board on rules, it is LARA that has rulemaking authority. Director Brisbo further explained that the December 15 date was selected after balancing patient needs with the letter of the law, and that tying the date to the opening of the application period made sense.
Board member Don Bailey, who has been the most vocal in advocating that existing dispensaries are not following the law and therefore should not be licensed, expressed concerns. He disagreed with the December 15 date, and also stated that he believes operating without licensure should be an absolute bar to future licensure, not a “potential impediment.” He moved that the Board request LARA to work with the Board to set an earlier date.
After Board Chairman Rick Johnson seconded Member Bailey’s motion, the other Board members voiced several questions. Board member Vivian Pickard asked who should be setting a closure date, and shared her view that it is the judicial system that should be enforcing current law. Board member Nichole Cover echoed the point that the Board is not an enforcement agency, and that criteria should be set through rules with applicants provided due process. And Board member David LaMontaine asked why the Board was even discussing a rule.
After Director Brisbo further explained the relative roles of the Board and LARA, Chairman Johnson withdrew his support for Member Bailey’s motion. This prompted Mr. Bailey to state that, when it comes to voting for licenses, he will vote against anyone who continues to operate past his own previously proposed date of September 15.
The upshot of all of this activity is that potential applicants are left with LARA’s statement that the emergency rules will provide that operation a marihuana business after December 15 will be a “potential impediment” to licensure. This could leave the Board free to consider evidence an applicant might put forward contending that they have indeed been operating within the limitations of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. Importantly, Director Brisbo made clear that LARA’s emergency rule on currently operating facilities will apply across all license classes. It is not just dispensaries that must pay attention to this rule, but growers, processors, and testing labs as well.
Whether this is the end of the closure issue remains to be seen. Numerous members of the public argued that, under LARA’s approach, there will be many months between December 15 and when licensed product is available, during which patients may have challenges accessing medical marihuana. Board Member LaFontaine zeroed in on this issue, and seemed receptive to notions of temporary or provisional licenses to bridge the gap. Member LaFontaine, though, also recognized that such an approach would require the Legislature to act.
LARA and the Board are in a difficult position. Current law at the State level does not allow for most of the activity taking place today, and other applicants are abiding by the law and waiting to open. It also appears to us likely that even if there is a December 15 “closure” date, there will be dispensary owners who know that they cannot qualify for licenses—and they will stay open as long as law enforcement does not take action against them. We fully expect this controversy to continue for months, and possibly as long as another year.
Apart from the closure issue, there were other important announcements from LARA. Director Brisbo announced that non-refundable application fees will be in the range from $4,000 to $8,000 per license. After a decision is made to award an applicant a license, the regulatory assessment fee in the range of $10,000-$57,000 will need to be paid before the license is issued. Additionally, LARA announced its selections for members of the public workgroups that will advise LARA on final rules for the industry. If today’s Board meeting is any indication, those of us who have been chosen for those workgroups will be hearing from many passionate members of the public.
Stay tuned to Dykema’s Cannabis Law Blog for further updates.
Major Announcements Coming at Next Michigan Medical Marihuana Licensing Board Meeting
This past weekend, Director Shelly Edgerton, head of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), made several important announcements at the State Bar of Michigan’s Marihuana Law Section annual conference.
As we have been reporting, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Licensing Board (the Board) has been grappling with the issue of how to address licensing applications that may be filed by businesses that are currently operating as dispensaries, caregivers selling “overages” of marijuana to persons other than their five connected patients, and even testing labs serving dispensaries and caregivers. Despite the fact that a 2013 Michigan Supreme Court opinion ruled that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act does not permit sales of marihuana except from a caregiver to his or her maximum five patients, businesses selling marihuana outside of that framework appear to be flourishing in some Michigan communities. The Board has now twice suggested that any such businesses must close, or be ineligible for licensure as the State implements a new law allowing for regulated provisioning centers and other related businesses.
At its last meeting, the Board requested that LARA issue a recommendation on this issue. At the State Bar conference, Director Edgerton confirmed that this recommendation will be announced at the Board’s September 12 meeting. She also stated that LARA views testing labs and businesses other than dispensaries as no different than the dispensaries that are operating, and therefore subject to the same recommendation. We anticipate that the Board will provide a very short window for currently operating businesses to close. According to the Detroit News, some dispensaries anticipate the same action and are already closing.
While the Board’s impending action on current businesses has garnered lots of attention, Director Edgerton also announced several other very important action items that can be expected at the next Board meeting, and over the next few weeks. These include:
Announcement on September 12 of the selected members of public workgroups that will provide input to LARA on rules and regulations for the industry. LARA received more than 700 applications.
An announcement on September 12 of the amounts for application fees and the per licensee regulatory assessment.
An announcement in the next few weeks of the capitalization and other financial requirements that license applicants will need to satisfy, including what types of financial instruments can support those financial obligations.
Before the release of the emergency rules that will govern the industry, expected in early November, LARA will publish an “advisory draft” of those rules.
Release in the next two weeks or so of the API agreement between the State and Franwell’s Metrc system, which will allow potential licensees to understand how third party software can interface with the State’s seed-to-sale tracking system.
In addition to those upcoming actions, Director Edgerton also informed conference attendees that LARA has concluded that different license types may be co-located, that businesses may own multiple licenses, and that “Secure Transporters” will only need to be locally authorized by the municipality where they have brick and mortar facilities. She stated that the emergency rules the State issues will not seek to regulate the time, place and manner of operations, leaving control in the hands of local government until LARA addresses these issues in its final rules. Finally, Director Edgerton stated that LARA is working with the Legislature on at least two bills, one to revise the municipal review process so that the municipalities do not have to send LARA paper copies of their ordinances in response to every application, and another to clarify that CPA’s will not face license repercussions by serving participants in the industry.
As Director Edgerton put it, LARA personnel have moved beyond “drinking water from a fire hose” to “trying to build the airplane while flying it.” We have found that every time we see the Director and her senior staff, they have important news to impart, and that they are doing their absolute best to keep the industry informed.
Check back often for updates at Dykema’s Cannabis Law Blog. We’ll have further coverage of last weekend’s State Bar conference, and of this week’s critical Board meeting.
For those who identify as “green-friendly,” it seems like the preferred methods for ingesting Cannabis are smoking and consuming edibles. According to recent studies, by far the most popular method for consuming Cannabis is join-rolling, followed by smoking bongs and bowls. No doubt, these are reliable ways to get your fill of Cannabis, but it’s important not to lose touch with the evolving technology behind cannabis ingestion. Such as drinking cannabis. It’s one thing to have a preference, but to doggedly stick to your joint-smoking is to run the risk of becoming the Amish of the 4/20 world – and trust me, high life is better with an Xbox.
There’s good reason to believe that drinking Cannabis is a method of ingestion that’s only going to grow in popularity. It makes sense on a number of levels. On a legal level, now that Cannabis mostly decriminalized, new products can sprout up with real business investment. Stacking your high school friends in a Honda Civic to smoke makes sense when Cannabis is illegal. With legalization, you’re not constrained to basic, DIY ways of ingestion, or tight legroom.
Another advantage of Cannabis “drinkables” is that they are great for inexperienced users. Drinkables are a great entryway method because of their fast-acting nature and shorter lifespan. This is because many drinkables tend to be “sublingual” (get absorbed in your mouth) rather than edibles which are digested in your liver. Absorption in your liver can take as long as 1-2 hours to begin to take effect and last anywhere from 4-8 hours. With sublingual absorption, onset can take place as early as 5-30 minutes and last between 2 and 4 hours. With drinkables, you also avoid the sticky smell of Cannabis after smoking.
If you’ve gotten this far in the article and you’re open to the idea of drinking Cannabis, the question might be on the tip of your tongue, “What products or mixers should I be using to drink Cannabis?” Stuff your rolling paper back in your drawer – Smoking w/Style has your answer.
Putting the Drink in Drinkables
Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber’s infamous escapades with “Lean” – a mixture of cough medicine, soda, and fruit candy – have at once popularized the drink and given it a bad name. Instead, Cannabis-infused syrups are a good substitute and can provide therapeutic benefits that cough syrups cannot. Most commonly, Cannabis syrups, or “lean,” are mixed with Sprite, but it’s possible to mix syrups with other drinks like teas or sports drinks. If you are looking to create a health-smart version of “lean,” we recommend Hemp Bombs CBD Syrup.
Thanks to developments in infusion technology, companies are able to produce carbonated beverages enriched with Cannabis. Sprig soda out of Southern California is perhaps the best exponent of THC-infused sodas, with up to 45mg of THC per can.
GFarmaLabs offers thirst-quenching THC Lemonades with up to 210mg of THC per bottle.That’s a stand worth stopping for.
Coffee & Tea
Hot beverages like tea and coffee have a high THC solubility and are great hosts for Cannabis derivatives like THC. Jane’s Brew is a good resource for teas, coffees, and cappuccinos if you’re of the hot beverage persuasion. WIth Cannabis coffee, it’s possible to actually enjoy reading the morning paper. j
On this one, be careful. Readers will know more than most people the sometimes disorienting effects of mixing alcohol and Cannabis. But, there is a movement to integrate Cannabis and mixology with companies like Craft Elixirs. They are producing cannabis-infused simple syrups, which are used to sweeten a number of cocktails. Soon, it will be possible to be a budtender/bartender all at once.
While old hot-boxing stories and near run-ins with cops may make great fodder for reminiscing, in today’s weed world they represent the Cannabis Stone Age. Laws are moving forward and so are the ways we are ingesting our legal Cannabis. Smoking w/Style wants to remind you that it’s occasionally okay to set your joint down for a drinkable syrup, lemonade, or coffee. Just make sure you use an ash tray – you remember what your girlfriend said last time.
Michigan Medical Marihuana Board Announces More Meetings
Today, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Board announced further public meetings.
As we reportedfollowing the Board’s meeting last week, the Board’s next meeting had been scheduled for October. The State’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (“LARA”) was asked by the Board to come to that meeting with recommendations on how the Board should handle licensing for individuals and entities that are presently operating unlicensed marihuana-related businesses. As multiple Board members explained at the last meeting, these operations are occurring despite a 2013 Michigan Supreme Court decision that held most commercial marihuana activity illegal under Michigan law.
It now appears that LARA and the Board will wade back into the controversial topic of ongoing marihuana businesses sooner than initially anticipated. Today, the Board announced a meeting to be held at noon on September 12 at Bath Township’s Hawk Hollow golf course outside of East Lansing. This meeting is in addition to public meetings that will be held in East Lansing on October 17 and November 28.
Like the last meeting, all of these meetings will be live-streamed. A link for viewing the meetings will be posted on LARA’s medical marihuana webpage prior to the meetings.
Check back with Dykema’s Cannabis Law Blog for further updates.