New marijuana rules could translate into higher prices, short supplies of legal weed
Michigan logged its first day of recreational marijuana sales Sunday, attracting long lines to three shops in Ann Arbor. Detroit Free Press
Michigan’s marijuana market just got a little bit tighter at a time when the legal weed supply is already struggling to keep up with demand.
In an effort to ensure that all marijuana produced and sold in Michigan comes from licensed growers, processors and retailers, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency began Sunday to phase out products grown and processed by caregivers, who have been cultivating weed since Michigan voters approved marijuana for medical use in 2008.
And that’s going to put a crucial crimp in Michigan’s supply of weed. Currently, the cannabis grown by caregivers — the people registered by the state who can grow up to 72 plants for up to six medical marijuana cardholders — makes up 60% of the marijuana flower in the marketplace. Under previous rules, the caregivers have been able to supply marijuana flower and infused products to state licensed growers and processors to supplement the medical and recreational marketplace
The new rules went into effect Sunday and until May 31, caregivers can only supply marijuana flower to state licensed growers and processors, who can, in turn, have the product tested and either turned into other pot-infused products or sold to legal weed shops. They can no longer supply the marijuana oil, also known as distillate or concentrate, to the legal medical or recreational marketplace.
From June 1 to Sept. 30, licensed marijuana growers and processors will be limited in the amount of flower they can get from caregivers. And by Sept. 30, no caregiver products — flower, oils or infused products will be allowed in the licensed marijuana marketplace.
The caregiver-produced infused products, including vapes and edibles, already on the shelves of medical and recreational pot shops can be sold until the product is gone, said David Harns, spokesman for the Marijuana Regulatory Agency.
“Whatever they have on their shelves, they can sell,” he said. “And by the time caregiver flower is phased out, licensed growers should be able to fill the difference.”
The first impact is going to be on price, said Dennis Zoma, one of the owners of Liv medical marijuana dispensary in Ferndale. The caregiver product has been much cheaper because it isn’t subject to state mandated regulatory fees and assessments that licensed facilities are required to pay and they don’t have the same overhead costs.
“It’s going to drive up pricing on the distillate oil, which is going to affect the price of vape carts to edibles to everything else,” he said. “And when the caregiver flower is phased out, that’s going to really hurt.”
At shops like The Reef, a medical marijuana dispensary in Detroit that doesn’t have a grow operation attached to the shop yet, the problem gets even tougher.
“Most of the wholesalers are vertically integrated, and they’re only going to supply their own shops. So there is definitely a big concern about product availability,” said Rush Hasan, head of operations at The Reef. “And once the Marijuana Regulatory Agency shuts down the caregiver market entirely, then we’re at the mercy of any of the suppliers out there.”
The wholesale price for marijuana in Michigan is running $4,000 to $4,500 a pound, one of the highest prices in the nation. Those prices are then getting passed on to customers. And many of those customers are reverting back to the much lower black market prices.
“We’re seeing less of our loyal customers coming in,” Hasan said. “We’re assuming that they’re going to places closer to them or the illicit black market.”
At Arbors Wellness in Ann Arbor, which sells both medical and recreational marijuana and is vertically integrated with a grow operation, processing plant and retail shop, supply has been steady, but phasing out caregiver flower and infused products will make business challenging.
“It will kick licensed producers into high gear, which is a good thing,” said James Daly, president of Arbors. “And I think the state is looking for more aggressive action and production from licensees.
“But there are a lot of good caregivers in the state who do a great job and the market is absolutely dependent on their product. I think we’re going to see a lot of market volatility this year.”
That uncertainty comes at a time when the state is adding more and more recreational business licenses in the state to accommodate a growing desire for legal weed in the state. Since Dec. 1 when recreational marijuana sales began, $31.9 million in marijuana products have been sold. That amount has generated $5.3 million in tax revenue from the state’s 10% excise tax and 6% sales tax.
There are 61 licensed marijuana retailers, but only roughly 35 of those are actually selling recreational pot. And there are 26 licensed recreational pot growers and 11 processors in the state.
In an effort to ensure that only licensed marijuana businesses are operating in Michigan, the state sets new rules to phase out caregiver products
LEARN | LAWS & REGULATIONS
Is weed legal in Michigan?
Yes. Both adult-use (recreational) and medical marijuana are legal in the state of Michigan.
Michigan voters approved the Michigan Compassionate Care Initiative , or the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, with 63% of the vote on Nov. 6, 2008. The measure legalized the medical use of marijuana for seriously ill patients. It allowed seriously and terminally ill patients to use marijuana with a doctor’s approval and permitted qualifying patients and caregivers to cultivate a limited supply of medical marijuana.
Michigan voters approved the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA) on Nov. 6, 2018, legalizing adult-use consumption of cannabis in the state and making it the first state in the Midwestern U.S. to permit medical and recreational cannabis. (“Marihuana” is not a typo, but an outdated spelling that harkens back to the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 .)
Where is it safe to purchase weed in Michigan?
Medical marijuana patients may purchase cannabis from a state-licensed retailer. According to Michigan.gov , “The Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) regulates the state’s medical marijuana facilities and licensees in accordance with the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) and its associated administrative rules.”
Adult-use, or recreational, consumers may purchase cannabis from the state’s adult-use marijuana establishments, which are also regulated by the MRA.
Finding licensed cannabis retailers in Michigan
Medical marijuana cardholders and recreational users can find licensed cannabis retailers in Michigan and search by major metro areas. However, adult-use consumers should be aware many municipalities in Michigan have opted out of adult-use sales .
Where is it safe to consume weed in Michigan?
Certified patients and adults 21 and older may consume cannabis at home or in a private space. With the exception of a few unique circumstances, consumption in public areas is illegal. Consuming medical marijuana in a privately owned vehicle is considered use in a public place and is also prohibited. Driving under the influence of cannabis is a violation of Michigan’s Drugged Driving laws . Universities that receive federal funding must also comply with drug-free campus regulations, which prohibit marijuana possession and consumption on campus.
Possession and cultivation limits
According to state law, adults 21 and older may possess 2.5 ounces, or 71 grams, of cannabis flower or 15 grams of concentrate. Those interested in growing cannabis at home may cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants and may possess the harvest of those plants, up to 10 ounces, or 284 grams, in their home. Adults may gift small amounts of cannabis but are prohibited from selling cannabis without a license.
Primary caregivers may also hold legal amounts of medical cannabis for their patients. If an MMMP caregiver intends to cultivate plants for a patient, it must be specified on the patient’s registry application. Patients and primary caregivers may cultivate and possess up to 12 cannabis plants at a time. Home-cultivated plants must be kept in a locked, enclosed space. If a company or person wants to grow more, they need to apply for a Michigan commercial grow license.
Michigan medical marijuana laws
The Michigan Medical Marihuana Program or MMMP allows qualifying patients to obtain a registry ID card, which grants the patient legal access to medical marijuana.
Patients and caregivers
Patients must be 18 or older to qualify for medical cannabis use under current MMMP laws. If patients designate a primary caregiver, they are required to list the caregiver on their registry application. Caregivers must be at least 21 years old and never have been convicted of a violent or drug-related felony. Primary caregivers must also have not committed a felony of any kind within the last 10 years. Primary caregivers may have up to five qualifying patients in their care.
Debilitating medical conditions
The MMMP reserves medical cannabis access for patients with the following debilitating medical conditions under Michigan’s medical marijuana laws:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Hepatitis C
- Nail-patella syndrome
The MMMP also reserves medical cannabis for chronic or debilitating conditions, or their treatments, that produce one or more of the following:
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe and chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
Applying for medical marijuana certification in Michigan involves the following steps:
- Patients must get a recommendation from a qualified physician. Unlike programs in other states, the MMMP doesn’t require extra training from licensed physicians to issue medical marijuana recommendations. It does, however, require a “ bona fide doctor/patient relationship .”
- Patients must fill out the MMMP Michigan medical marijuana application form and submit it with a physician’s written certification and proof of Michigan residency (valid Michigan driver’s license, personal identification card, or signed voter registration).
- Patients who obtain a registry identification card are authorized to cultivate, possess, and purchase medical cannabis.
Registry identification card
The fee to obtain a registry ID card costs $60. Patients who designate a caregiver in their application must also submit a $25 caregiver fee and a copy of the caregiver’s state-issued identification. Designated caregivers will then receive a registry ID card, which expires on the same date as their patient’s registry ID.
Michigan patients have frequently been told by third parties that a registry application and physician can function as a temporary registry ID card. All patients applying for the MMMP should know that a valid registry ID card — presented alongside another state-issued ID, most commonly a state driver’s license — is the only form of identification that will protect them from arrest under Michigan dispensary laws.
Certified medical cannabis patients from out of state may use medical cannabis while in Michigan, as long as their home state also allows for reciprocity.
- Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) levels
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA) levels
- Terpene analysis
- Chemical residue
- Foreign matter inspection
- Fungicides, insecticides, and pesticides
- Metals screening
- Microbe and mycotoxin screening
- Moisture content
- Residual solvent levels
If a marijuana sample given to a safety compliance lab does not pass the microbial, mycotoxin, heavy metal, pesticide chemical residue, or residual solvents levels test as required by the MMMA, the facility that provided the sample is required to dispose of the entire batch from which the sample was taken, and provide documentation of its destruction.
This page was last updated September 25, 2020.
View the marihuana laws & regulations for Michigan.