A series of bills currently under consideration in the Michigan legislature would yield enormous changes to medical cannabis caregivers in the state.
The proposals have touched a nerve with advocates and medical cannabis customers in the Wolverine State, some of whom are reportedly “boycotting the major cannabis producers that back the legislation.”
The upshot of all the bills is that they would significantly limit the amount of marijuana a caregiver can grow, reducing the number of cannabis plants from 72 to 24.
The sponsor of the legislation––filed under House Bills 5300, 5301 and 5302––is Republican state House Rep. Jim Lilly, who contends that the proposals are about ensuring the quality of the product for medical cannabis patients in Michigan.
“Two-thirds of the market right now of cannabis in Michigan is unregulated and so what that means is the majority of that product can be untested,” Lilly said, as quoted by local television station WOOD TV. “So for cancer patients, those with immunocompromised situations, getting access to a safe product is really important. Some of this untested product has been found to contain mold, pesticides, E. coli, salmonella.”
“New York just went through some of this work and they’ve done about 12 plants for six patients, compared to what I’ve proposed at 24, but our current law allows for 72, which for anyone who does any growing or cultivating cannabis knows is far more than six patients can possibly consume,” he added.
But Casey Kornoelje, the founder of Michigan cannabis provisioner Farmhouse Wellness, told the station that the legislation could ultimately reduce the amount he could dispense to his wife, who lives with Crohn’s disease. (Kornoelje serves as his wife’s caregiver, per the station.)
“You’re probably not harvesting 72 plants all in one shot. In order for these caregivers to provide a consistent flow of cannabis for their patients, most likely they’re breaking that down into different segments—some in the early seedling stage, some in the vegetive stage, and then some in the flower stage. And so when you break that down, it’s really not that excessive of a plant count as people are thinking,” Kornoelje said, as quoted by WOOD TV.
Michigan voters legalized medical cannabis treatment in 2008. Ten years later, those voters did the same for recreational pot use.
Patients in Michigan may qualify for a medical marijuana prescription if they have one of the following conditions: Cancer, glaucoma, HIV positive, AIDS, Hepatitis C, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s Disease, nail-patella syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injury, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s disease, autism, chronic pain and cerebral palsy.
Lilly’s legislation was first introduced in September, and drew almost immediate pushback. A day after the bills were proposed, advocates and caregivers held a protest outside the state capitol in Lansing. The group that organized the protest singled out the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturer’s Association (MCMA), which has pushed to limit the amount the caregivers can give to their patients.
“Michigan’s cannabis consumers have lashed out in anger; a boycott of MCMA products and companies affiliated with them has resulted in the resignation of their president, the removal of any reference to individual members on their website, the election of a new board chair to clean up their public relations and the cancellation of orders from MCMA companies by retailers,” read a press release for the demonstration.
The MCMA has countered by arguing that a large majority of cannabis sales in Michigan occur beyond the scope of the state’s regulated market, and that the legislation is designed to mitigate that.