Michigan Legislature Introduces Bills to Reduce Caregiver Program

Michigan lawmakers proposed three bills yesterday that aim to reduce what caregivers can provide for medical cannabis patients.

The Michigan legislature returned full-time on September 9, and House Bills 5300, 5301 and 5302 were introduced on September 14. This bill package seeks to alter the Medical Marihuana Act, which was initially implemented in 2008. If passed, the bills would reduce caregiver patients from five to only one, and reduce the number of plants a caregiver can grow from 60 to 12, with an additional 12 plants they’re allowed to grow for personal use. One of the bills also creates a license called “specialty medical grower,” which would require a $500 application to get cannabis tested.

According to Mlive.com, these bills were proposed one day before a protest was set to occur. Yesterday, the “Michigan Caregivers United: Rally at the Capitol” protest was held in front of the state capitol in Lansing. The march was held to protest the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturer’s Association (MCMA) and its push to limit caregiver’s allowances for 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.” The protest has been in the works for some time, with an official press release announcement posted on July 8 in anticipation of these plans.

The MCMA released a study in June through the Anderson Economic Group stating that 70 percent of cannabis sales were made outside of regulated dispensaries, and that illegal sales are the main way that residents are obtaining cannabis. 

“Michigan’s unregulated cannabis market poses an immediate threat to the health of all Michiganders, and the Michigan Cannabis Safety Act updates outdated laws to help ensure all Michiganders have access to tested, tracked and labeled cannabis products,” MCMA Board Chair Shelly Edgerton told Mlive.com

“We look forward to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to bring Michigan’s unregulated, unlicensed cannabis market in line with the rest of the cannabis industry to help ensure safe, high-quality cannabis is available for all Michiganders.”

The MCMA’s website states that the organization represents “nearly half of all multiple Class C cannabis licenses in Michigan,” which is the most expensive license type, and represents the largest cultivation businesses in the state.

Those who oppose this notion argue that caregivers are not responsible for black market sales, and that there’s no good reason to threaten the caregiver system. Over 250 companies have spoken out in favor of supporting the caregiver program as well as small businesses. Companies such as The Botanical Co. released official statements regarding the MCMA. 

“We stand with our fellow industry professionals in their efforts to stop the attack on caregivers. It is our belief that our industry thrives when small businesses and caregivers can flourish,” officials said in a statement. “Our customers and patients remain at the core of what we do and to ensure they continue to have access to the products they rely on, we are actively pursuing the sourcing of high quality products from companies that more align with our mission. We encourage local brands to contact us if they are interested in retail space at our stores. Together, we can make a difference and move our industry forward.”

According to the Marijuana Regulatory Agency in a July report, there are 30,229 caregivers in the state and 251,284 medical cannabis patients that they serve. A majority of these patients suffer from conditions such as chronic pain, arthritis, muscle spasms and PTSD. Meanwhile, the state is taking many steps toward improving social equity and supporting residents’ rights to consume while off the job.

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Episode 375 – What Can New York and California Learn From Each Other?

Mike Liszewski and Jeremy Berke speak with host Ben Larson about the lessons New York and California can learn from one another as their respective markets take hold and mature, as well as the status of federal legalization and cannabis research legislation. Produced by Shea Gunther.

Photo: Elsa Olofsson/Flickr

California Bill to Allow Medical Cannabis in Hospitals Heads to Governor’s Desk

The Compassionate Access to Medical Cannabis Act or Ryan’s Law would allow patients in California with serious conditions to use non-smokable medical cannabis inside of hospitals. After receiving approval in California’s Assembly and Senate, Ryan’s Law and a bill regulating smokable hemp products both headed to the governor’s desk, amid a recall election.

If and when it’s signed by the governor, Senate Bill 311 or Ryan’s Law would allow terminally ill patients to use medical cannabis in healthcare facilities. The proposal prohibits patients, however, from inhaling or vaping herbal cannabis products. It also restricts the use of any forms of cannabis in emergency rooms.

Members of the California Assembly and Senate approved legislation and sent a bill to the Governor’s desk to allow the use of medical cannabis products within hospitals and other eligible health care facilities. 

The California State Assembly voted 57-1 to approve the bill on September 9, and the Senate approved the other chamber’s amendments in a 36-1 vote the next day.

The bill was pushed by State Senator Ben Hueso, who has fought to allow cannabis use in medical facilities for terminally ill patients repeatedly. In July, Hueso sent a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, asking them to provide clarification on whether hospitals in legal cannabis states can allow terminally ill patients to use medical cannabis without jeopardizing federal funding.

The bill “would require specified types of health care facilities to allow a terminally ill patient’s use of medicinal cannabis within the health care facility, subject to certain restrictions,” it reads. “The bill would require a patient to provide the health care facility with a copy of their medical marijuana card or written documentation that the use of medicinal cannabis is recommended by a physician. The bill would require a health care facility to reasonably restrict the manner in which a patient stores and uses medicinal cannabis to ensure the safety of other patients, guests, and employees of the health care facility, compliance with other state laws, and the safe operations of the health care facility.”

Lawmakers approved a similar bill in 2019, but it was vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom who expressed concerns that it create a conflict between federal and state law. 

Representatives from both HHS and the governor’s office have recently reached out to Hueso to say they’re continuing to look into the matter.

The senator’s legislation was partly inspired by the experience of a father whose son died from cancer and was initially denied access to cannabis at a California hospital. Jim Bartell did eventually find a facility that agreed to allow the treatment, and he has said his son’s quality of life improved dramatically in those last days.

The U.S. Hemp Roundtable claims that they’ve reached an agreement and expect Governor Newsom to sign the hemp-derived CBD bill. “We’re excited to report that a final deal has been reached with Governor Gavin Newsom to move to final passage of AB 45, our long term effort to explicitly permit the retail sale of hemp-derived extracts such as CBD in California,” a U.S Hemp Roundtable release reads. However, it’s unclear if the governor will sign Ryan’s Law, as he vetoed similar legislation earlier due to confusion about federal implications.

AB 45 would allow the sale of hemp-derived CBD extracts outside of licensed cannabis dispensaries. The Senate in a 29-2 vote on Wednesday. The Assembly concurred with amendments and gave final passage to the bill in a 56-3 vote on Thursday.

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Episode 368 – Schumer & Co. Push the CAOA

Taylor West and Jahan Marcu join host Heather Sullivan to talk about the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, recently introduced by its three main sponsors Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), as well as movement at the federal level on advancing medical research into the benefits of psychedelics. Produced by Shea Gunther.

Photo: Don Goofy/Flickr

Episode 367 – Are the Feds Ready for Legalization?

Heather Sullivan and first-time guest Brian Adams join host Ben Larson to talk about the just-announced federal legalization bill the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (or “CAOA”), introduced by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Produced by Shea Gunther.

Photo: Marketeering Group/Flickr

Episode 364 – A Tribute to Steve Fox

Betty Aldworth, Andrew Livingston, Jordan Wellington, and Mason Tvert join host Kris Krane to talk about the life and legacy of our friend and activist Steve Fox, who passed away at the age of 53 in April. Produced by Shea Gunther.

Photo: Nancy Lane/Boston Globe

Episode 363 – New York’s Big Marijuana Moves

Jeremy Berke joins host Ben Larson to talk about the rumored embrace of cannabis companies by the Toronto Stock Exchange, the substantial cannabis reform enacted in New York and the business opportunities soon to flow, and the latest news out of international cannabis. Produced by Shea Gunther.

Photo: Elsa Olofsson/Flickr

Episode 362 – The Mainstream March of Marijuana

Andrea Brooks and Natalie Fertig join host Heather Sullivan to talk about the recent moves towards more cannabis normalization by the NFL, Amazon, and Rolling Stone as well as the various routes states are taking to legalize marijuana. Produced by Shea Gunther.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr