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Friday, March 2, 2018

Michigan News - March 2018 - by Kathy Hess

Michigan’s New Universal THC Symbol

LANSING -  The Universal Symbol that will be required on all products containing THC has been decided upon by the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulations (BMMR). The universal symbol is required by Rules 38 and 39 of the Emergency Rules filed on December 4, 2017.

Rule 38 requires that prior to being sold or transferred, a marihuana plant must have a package tag affixed to the plant or plant container and enclosed with a tamper proof seal that includes a “universal symbol if applicable”.

Rule 39 requires that prior to marihuana product being sold or transferred to or by a provisioning center, the container, bag, or product holding the marihuana product must have a label that includes a “universal symbol published by the department”.

In addition to the universal symbol, marihuana product must have a label and be sealed with all the following information:

• The name of the licensee and license number of the producer and/or the packager.

• The tag or source number as assigned by the statewide 
   monitoring system.

• The unique identification number for the package or the harvest, if applicable.

• Date of harvest, name of strain, net weight, and concentration of THC or CBD.

• Activation time expressed in words or through a pictogram.

• Name of the safety compliance facility that performed any test, any associated test batch number,    and any test analysis date.

• A warning that states the following: "For use by registered qualifying patients only. Keep out of      reach of children. It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of marihuana."

If the plant or product does not meet the definition of “marihuana” as defined in the MMFLA then the universal symbol is not required. This advisory bulletin does not constitute legal advice and is subject to change. It is intended to provide advisory information as to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Emergency Rules which were promulgated on
December 4, 2017.

Licensees are encouraged to seek legal counsel to ensure their operations comply with the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act and associated Emergency Rules.

Repeal 6% Patient Tax!; The Unannounced 6% 
Patient Tax Sets Trap for Income Tax Evasion Charges!

LANSING - On Monday, February 12, 2018, Michigan NORML (MINORML) launched their REPEAL THE 6% PATIENT TAX campaign. This action is a direct response to the Michigan Department of Treasury's implementation of a 6% use tax on transfers of medical cannabis between a patient and the caregiver with whom they are connected to through the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program patient registry database. It's our hope this campaign will encourage policy makers to rescind this
atrocious policy.

Michigan NORML board members contend the 6% Patient Tax conflicts with Section 4(a) of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMAct); "A qualifying patient who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card is not subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner,..." MINORML Social Media Director, Brad Forrester asks; “If the imposition of a 6% Patient Tax isn't a penalty, then what is?”. Section 7(e) of MMMAct ends with; "All other acts and parts of acts inconsistent with this act do not apply to the medical use of marihuana as provided for by this act." To that, Forrester replied, “The plain language itself couldn't be any clearer. No other Michigan statutes apply to the medical use of marihuana. None, not even Treasury Department policies!”

Michigan NORML board member Rick Thompson stated, “Perhaps the most revolting aspect of this new policy is how it was introduced to the 300,000 patients who participate in the program, they were not notified at all! This policy sets a trap for every patient by exposing them to possible income tax evasion charges.” In fact, this policy is so objectionable that it has motivated several legislators to introduce House Bill 5511, a bill that would amend 1941 PA 122 and require the Department of Treasury to provide both the House and the Senate with a written explanation of the Department's interpretation and justification for new policy changes. Thompson added, “Our position can't be viewed as extreme when even some legislators also believe the Treasury Department has overstepped it's authority instituting this new policy!”

Query for Questionable Council

KALKASKA — Emails show a Kalkaska official guided a medical marijuana investment group on a
shopping spree to snap up numerous village properties, including two with ties to elected officials who voted to legalize commercial medical marijuana production.

Record-Eagle, a newspaper out of Traverse City, obtained emails through a Freedom of Information Act request which showed Kalkaska village downtown authority Development Director, Cash Cook, advised investors while they worked to buy a passel of properties, some for future commercial medical marijuana businesses. Those investments include properties connected to village President Jeff Sieting and former Trustee Kathy Sanborn.

Cook helped Joe Pare (a representative for multiple companies), who had ongoing medical marijuana interests in town; locate properties that had specific zoning and others where the zoning could be adjusted to reflect the needs of businesses Pare represented.

“They sought out pieces of property, we attempted to clarify what the zoning usage would be for that piece of property,”said Cook.

The assistance Cook provided led Pare and KX3 HOT LLC to purchase Hotel Sieting from Jeff Sieting for $125,000 on Sept. 8. Yet emails between Pare and Cook indicate the group worked to seal the deal with the village president in July, a month before Sieting voted to opt the village into the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act. That late-August vote effectively cleared the way for medical marijuana businesses to operate in the village under the new state law.

Sieting did not disclose the potential conflict or recuse himself from the Aug. 28 vote.

Cook claims he held a deposit check related to the hotel deal for Pare at one point and believes the investor began preparing to make the buy in July or earlier. Record-Eagle dug up mails between Pare and Cook in July, some discuss a deposit and purchase agreement for the hotel.

Robert Schwartz sold the building at 256 S. Cedar St. to Pare and KX3 LB LLC for $210,000 on Aug. 3, according to deed documents. Sanborn was a village trustee at the time of the sale and acknowledged she continues to date Schwartz. She resigned from the board Jan. 15 citing concerns with the “direction that the village council is taking,” according to her resignation letter.

Sanborn said Schwartz’s property sale had no impact on her Aug. 28 vote alongside other trustees to allow medical marijuana businesses to operate in the village under the new state law. Sanborn claims she had nothing to do with real estate dealings concerning Schwartz or his RJS Investments and did not see any benefit from the sale. Her only involvement was assuring some of the paperwork was completed by Antrim County Title, she said. Deed documents indicate Pare and FT ONE LLC bought additional parcels near 829 S. Cedar St. for approximately $1.95 million on Aug. 30. Cook claims Pare had already been working on property transactions before they met.

Cook also worked vetting/background checks on applications alongside village zoning and licensing officer Denny Corrado during the fall. Cook and Corrado, were the only officials who determined a list of finalists for licenses, including Pare’s application, to an advisory committee.Pare later received at least two village medical marijuana licenses, including one for a dispensary at 256 S. Cedar St.

Sieting said he knew some of the members of the group that bought his hotel had medical marijuana connections. He denied any conflicts of interest, despite the timing of the sale, less than two weeks after he and council members voted to make the medical marijuana changes.

Pare’s purchase of the hotel and former bank building came before or immediately after the August vote when village trustees decided to make various ordinance adjustments to reflect state statute, clearing the way for approved medical marijuana facilities to set up shop in Kalkaska. Cook contends trustees chose to allow medical marijuana facilities months prior to the August vote.

“None of the applicants in any way, shape, or form were guaranteed any kind of license,” said Cook.

Helping people find opportunities to join the community, build homes and open businesses is a job that Cook and all officials should work toward, Sieting said. “If it’s going to help individuals looking to invest in the community, I say do it,” he said. “Make their want to come here as easy as possible.”

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