There’s a lot going on and a lot to comprehend as Michigan moves to bring order to its medical marijuana industry. Next year, Michigan will begin issuing five types of licenses for businesses associated with medical marijuana, from dispensaries to transporters. State officials warned existing dispensaries to close by Dec. 15 if they want a good shot at a license. Local communities can opt in or out of the new medical marijuana program. Cities that opt in and allow dispensaries get 25 percent of revenue from the 3 percent tax on gross receipts at dispensaries located in the municipality. Dispensaries and the other four types of licensed facilities can only operate in communities
that opt in.
Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. The Obama administration didn’t challenge state laws legalizing it in places such as Colorado and Washington state. Things are certainly changing. The Trump administration isn’t as accommodating. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has asked the Senate to repeal rules so the Justice Department can enforce federal laws against medical marijuana. Changes are coming for the industry.
The Bay City Commission voted recently to approve a resolution to opt into the state’s medical marijuana facilities licensing act. This act allows the city to start crafting ordinances and zoning requirements about where manufacturers and dispensaries might be able to operate. The Bay City Times reports neighboring Bangor and Pinconning townships spent months to write and approve ordinances. Both of the townships have already started accepting applications for commercial growers, transporters and others.
The vote comes as the state of Michigan is moving ahead on a new regulatory system aimed at increasing oversight and imposing new taxes on the medical marijuana industry. Michigan voters approved marijuana use in 2008 for some chronic medical conditions.
But there’s potentially a bigger issue facing the budding cannabis industry. There is someone that is trying to build a national monopoly on legal weed.
As reporter, Amanda Chicago Lewis, writes in her story for GQ, there are some powerful people trying to turn their company into the “Monsanto of marijuana.”
“Biotech Institute is a company that has really no assets other than these very broad patents on the cannabis plant,” said Lewis.
One marijuana geneticist estimated that the company’s patents cover “one-half to two-thirds of the strains currently on the market.”
The impact of those patents could be substantial. If one company receives a wide-ranging utility patent before its competitors, it could hold major control over the entire industry. That could result in higher prices and lower genetic diversity.
Over 200,000 Signatures for Marijuana LegalizationVoters in Michigan could see marijuana legislation on the ballot in 2018. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol says it’s close to having enough petition signatures to get on the ballot in November 2018. They say they have passed 200,000 signatures of the 252,523 needed. In Lansing, MIRSNews.com reports attorney Jeff Hank says they’re still shooting to have 350,000 signatures by early October. The group has until November 26, 2017 to collect enough signatures from registered voters to be on next fall’s ballot.