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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

MacDonald’s of Marijuana - by Ben Horner

Investors want the distribution rights to 
Michigan’s Emerging Medical Marijuana Program

     Lansing- The Michigan Senate Committee on Government Operations is considering the bills (HB 4271 and 5104) that would legalize dispensaries around the state, ending the four year debate on safe transfers of medical marijuana. When these bills pass, it will allow dispensaries and the production of infused marijuana edibles and concentrates to be licensed by any municipality that approves them. Investment groups like ArcView from California and Colorado have met with several Michigan cannabis dispensary owners who are seeking capital investors and strategic partners. Large-scale commercial medical marijuana warehouses in Detroit are working with several dispensary owners on a joint-venture to research potential markets. Their hopes are to use these new laws, also known as the local option, for medical marijuana to influence municipalities to give them sole distribution rights.

     According to ArcView’s website, “Investor members include heirs to family fortunes, representatives of venture capital funds, the top dispensary owners, experts in start-up investing, real estate investors, successful entrepreneurs who have sold their tech companies, owners of the most successful companies in the industry, and other high net-worth individuals.”  Other groups in Michigan, including some of the largest dispensaries in the metro Detroit area, are working hard to reinvest in the medical marijuana commercial enterprises, develop market research to further their investments, and are poised to secure as much of the Michigan medical marijuana market as possible.     

     Easton Pharmaceuticals, Inc. reported in June that it has signed an LOI agreement and is into negotiations with UMED Health and Wellness Centers who currently owns an operating medical marijuana dispensary in the State of Michigan who maintains approximately 1500 patients. Currently, Michigan has enacted a pharmaceutical grade medical marijuana law (SB 660) that lies dormant until Marijuana is rescheduled federally. If marijuana were rescheduled, this new pharmaceutical marijuana program would parallel the existing caregiver based program.

     Patients and caregivers in Michigan have reported mixed reactions to these pending changes to the medical marijuana program. Many are encouraged that the industry is growing and believe that it this is the natural evolution of marijuana law reform, leading up to full legalization. Others fear that a corporate take-over will limit patient’s access to the wide variety of strains, extracts and infused products that are being produced from the caregivers system. Sarah Dalton, a mmj patient advocate, is concerned that patients will eventually lose their ability to cultivate for themselves. 

     “It’s just like what happened in Canada,” said Dalton. “First they come in and change the laws, then the buy the rights to produce crappy meds and then they take away personal grow rights. People need to have the medicine that works best for them and these pharmaceutical warehouse products just don’t work effectively.” 


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