More Prequalification Approvals but Contradictory Statements from The Board at Today’s Meeting Cause Concern

Thursday May 3rd the Michigan Marijuana Facilities Licensing Board met and approved all three of the pre-qualification applications that were presented. Two of the applications passed unanimously and the other passed on by a 4-1 vote with Pickard being the only vote for denial. This would be the only board meeting so far where all the applications presented were approved by the board. The public comment portion of the meeting consisted of several individuals expressing concern over the boards’ ability to meet the June 15th deadline (see advisory bulletin) to approve or deny those applications submitted by businesses currently operating. If the pending applications are not fully approved by the June 15th deadline, all currently operating businesses will be forced to shut down preventing patients across the state of Michigan from obtaining medicine.

This is not good news for medical marijuana patients who rely on provisioning centers to provide them with access to medicine. Near the close of the meeting, the board was offered an opportunity to make comments.  One of the board members stated that those applicants who are not currently operating were at a competitive disadvantage.  Then the board member then went on to mention that this is all really about money. Seconds later in what was a strange turn of events, the same board member then went on to say “this is for the patients” and repeated it several times.

If the board members are truly concerned about the patients they will work with LARA (Licensing And Regulatory Affairs) and the BMMR (Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulations) to ensure those businesses who are currently operating and have made a good faith effort to obtain a license should not be forced to shut down on June 15th because of the State’s deficiency in approving licenses in a timely fashion. So I pose a question to the entire board: why bring up money and competitive disadvantage when discussing what is in the patients’ best interest? State Board will you, for the patients, set aside any interests or concerns regarding money and competitive disadvantage and do what’s right by ensuring they have consistent safe access to medical marihuana?

Marijuana Versus the Opiod Epidemic

Illinois Senate Bill 336 was passed by a staggering 44-6 vote. The measure is intended to allow flexibility in obtaining a medical marihuana in the state of Illinois by recognizing the use of cannabis as medicine in the fight against the opiod crisis.

As amended, the bill allows persons with an active prescription for opiods to have legal access to medical marihuana as an alternative medicinal option for palliative relief. Persons who qualify will also be able to apply for a medical marihuana card. The medical marijuana program in Illinois is rather restrictive in terms of qualified applicants. Currently, Illinois has issued approximately 30,000 cards to its residents.

The expansion and formal recognition of the use of marijuana as medicine in Illinois something to take note of as many states continue to progress in their efforts to regulate medical marihuana. The bill heads to the House for approval.

Illinois is not the only state seeking to expand the availability of medical marihuana. Michigan has introduced a list of 22 proposed medical conditions to be added and recognized under the Medical Marihuana Act as qualifying conditions. The list includes anxiety, depression, diabetes, panic attacks, and a myriad of other medical conditions for approval consideration. The Review Panel is scheduled to make their recommendations to the Department Director at a public meeting on May 4, 2018 in Lansing, Michigan.

For those who are committed to staying up-to-date on Michigan’s marijuana laws, call (517) 512-8364 to contact the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers.

 

Local Ordinances and the Medical Marijuana

This case is a court of appeals case in which a conflict between a local ordinances and medical marijuana laws were at issue. The Charter Township of York ordinance was found to have violated the protections provided by the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act(MMMA). The Charter Township of York started the legal proceedings by seeking a declaratory judgment which would have prevented the Defendants from growing their medical marihuana because it violated the local home occupation ordinance and the local ordinance regulating medical marihuana grows.
The issues the Charter Township of York had with the marihuana grow are that it violated the home occupation ordinance because the registered caregiver (the person possessing and cultivating the marijuana plants) did not live at the address and the grow was an outdoor building and not attached to the main residence. These were both violations of the home occupation ordinance. Further, the Charter Township of York also had passed a local ordinance to regulate medical marihuana caregivers. This ordinance did not allow outdoor grows and required all necessary permits to be obtained.
The trial court did not grant the declaratory judgement and held that the local ordinance directly conflicted the MMMA. This meant that the local ordinances as applied in this case were not applicable to local residents who were registered qualifying caregivers under the MMMA.
The Charter Township of York appeal this decision to the Michigan Court of appeals and argued that the zoning law “permitted it to regulate medical marijuana and restrict registered caregivers’ marijuana growing to indoors in areas zoned residential” Charter Township of York v. Miller, 335344, 2018 WL 472187, at *2 (Mich. App. Jan. 18, 2018).
The Michigan Court of appeals in a published decision disagreed with the Charter Townships arguments and the MMMA was ruled to have preempted the local ordinance. The MMA clearly states that “A person shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including but not limited to civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for providing a registered qualifying patient or a registered primary caregiver with marihuana paraphernalia for purposes of a qualifying patient’s medical use of marihuana” (Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 333.26424 (West)).
The result in this case is that only the regulations contained within the Medical marihuana act will apply to your grow. The home occupation ordinance in this case was void as applied to MMMA caregivers and patients and preempted by the MMMA. The regulations prohibiting outdoor grows or growing in unattached buildings was also preempted by the MMMA. The defendants were though required to abide by and obtain the required permits for the construction code and building permits.
This case is important for all caregivers because many local municipalities are creating local ordinances that conflict with the MMMA. If your local township has a local ordinance that you believe conflicts with the MMMA, call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers at 517-512-8364.

Joshua Covert of The Michigan Cannabis Lawyers is Interviewed in the Lansing City Pulse

Marijuana attorney Joshua Covert was recently interviewed by the Lansing City Pulse in the annual 4/20 edition.  The article discusses his work as a Cannabis Lawyer and how he fights the drug war.  Read the article here.

Attorney Joshua Covert Speaks at UNRIG THE SYSTEM Event in Lansing

Attorney Joshua Covert

Attorney Joshua Covert speaks at Unrig The System at 4-15-18 in Lansing Michigan.

On Sunday April 15th attorney Joshua Covert spoke at an event in Lansing geared to sharing information about local activism and grassroots efforts to empower citizens to play a larger role in the political process. The event was put on by Unrig The System a nationwide organization with a chapter in Michigan (visit their facebook page here).  Mr. Covert spoke as an attorney and activist involved in marijuana policy reform.  Mr. Covert spoke about his work as a board member of milegalize, a 2016 voter initiative campaign, and how important the voter initiative process is for citizens.

The event was originally scheduled to be held on the State Capitol grounds but because of weather was relocated to the Midtown Brewing Company.  Mr. Covert was pleased to hear the other speakers at the event but was excited to see that longtime friend and fellow cannabis activist Steven Lull (The Green Union) was also on the schedule.  It is important for Mr. Covert to speak to groups about political involvement and activism because of his belief that in our current form of government our legislators often don’t listen to the will of their constituents.  “It is obvious that our government in Lansing hasn’t been listening to the citizens of Michigan in regards to marijuana or cannabis policy reform,  legalization polls extremely high and most metropolitan areas have already legalized marijuana at the local level yet legalization is being done by the people via the voter initiative process and not by our elected legislators.”

 

Why the Next Medical Marijuana Licensing Board Meeting is Super Important

Michigan Cannabis Lawyers – Marijuana Attorney- Lansing

The next Michigan Medical Marihuana (Marijuana) Facility Licensing Act board meeting will tell us a lot in regards to time lines for the upcoming industry.  The Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (BMMR) began accepting applications for licenses under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Facility Licensing Act (MMFLA) in December of 2017.  Hundreds of applications have been submitted to the BMMR but so far there have been only two applications submitted to the state board for approval.  Each license after submitted must be approved by the state board. For the last meeting there were originally 5 applications on the agenda but three were removed the day before the meeting.  The two submissions that remained on the agenda  were prequalification applications which is the first of a two part application process.   Each of the prequalification applications were temporarily rejected and may be brought up for approval at the next board meeting.  The board meets this week April 19th and the agenda should be released early this week (click here to see agendas and meeting minutes).  Many applicants anxiously await the upcoming agenda to see how many applications will be submitted for approval.  Based on the last board meeting where license approvals were brought up for the first time and the fact that only 5 were originally planned for submission to the board, it would take over 5 years for the board to get through the applications they have currently received.

With new municipalities opting in every week and new opportunities around every corner, there should be a constant stream of applications to add to the stack of applications already piling up.  The State has already added additional meetings to the previously scheduled meeting schedule.  This will help the apparent backlog but wont be enough unless more than 5 applications are submitted to the board at each meeting.  Many patients around the state of Michigan rely on their medical use of marijuana to help them treat a variety of serious medical conditions and are counting on the MMFLA and the BMMR to put a functioning system in place so that they will have safe access to medicine.

Currently, the BMMR and the board have until June 15th to approve the facilities that are currently operating under local approval demonstrated by attestation E.  If those facilities are not granted approval and the rules don’t change, all currently operating facilities will be forced to shut down on June 15th.  If this occurs, patients will not have access to provisioning centers and the medicine that they provide.  It is the suggestion of the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers that the BMMR either add hundreds of applications for submission each meeting or extend the deadlines contained in the emergency rules.  It is vital that patients in Michigan have access to the medical marijuana they need.

 

Josh Covert

The Michigan Cannabis Defender

ANN ARBOR’S ANNUAL HASH BASH

John Sinclair paved the way for what is now known as Hash Bash, an event that takes place each year in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to celebrate and support the movement toward the legalization of marijuana in our great state. John Sinclair was imprisoned for over two years after attempting to furnish a police officer with a marijuana joint. After his conviction was overturned by the Michigan Supreme Court, a 21-day period existed in Michigan wherein marijuana was technically legal, and the event now known as Hash Bash was born.

At a time when Michigan is in the midst of implementing a regulatory system to facilitate the cultivation and acquisition of medical marihuana, and with greater than ever support for the legalization of recreational use and possession of marijuana by Michigan citizens, this year’s Hash Bash may be the last of its kind, as activists and those alike have for so long gathered to advocate and educate for the push toward legalization of marijuana. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed, and may soon be celebrated as Michigan edges closer and closer to legalizing marijuana.

 

The Michigan Cannabis Lawyers attended the 2018 Hash Bash and were energized and inspired listening to the wonderful speakers.  After the protest, The Michigan Cannabis Lawyers headed over to the Monroe Street fair for a continuation of the good times.  We were excited to see that the Monroe Street fair was even bigger than previous years and yet the street was as packed as ever, certainly a good sign for both the legalization movement and Hash Bash. The Michigan Cannabis Lawyers look forward to attending again in 2019 when hopefully marijuana is legal in Michigan.

If you are looking for attorneys who stay up to date on marijuana and cannabis issues, contact the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers at 517-512-8364.

Marijuana Protest

2018 Hash Bash Michigan

 

State of Michigan Orders Hundreds of Medical Marihuana Provisioning Centers to Close Their Doors

Michigan has approximately 277,000 medical marihuana patients. Those individuals may find themselves having to travel a greater distance to purchase marihuana after Michigan issued cease and desist letters to over 200 medical marihuana provisioning centers, many of them located in Wayne County.

LARA, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, determined that there were a lot of provisioning centers that were continuing to operate despite not having filed an application. Right now, businesses operating as medical marihuana dispensaries would fall under the framework of the Medical Marihuana Facilities and Licensing Act (MMFLA). Under the Emergency Rules that currently govern these operations, specifically Rule 19(4), which states that “an applicant for a state operating license may temporarily operate a proposed marihuana facility that would otherwise require a state operating license if the applicant meets certain requirements, including the submission of at least a prequalification application for a state operating license. . .no later than February 15, 2018.”

Even with these ordered closures, there are still provisioning centers that remain with open doors and the hope that they are granted a license to operate in the evolving landscape of Michigan’s medical marihuana industry.

For the guys that provide guidance and expertise counsel to navigate Michigan’s regulatory framework in the medical marihuana industry, contact the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers at 517-512-8364.

 

Appeal Court Rules MMMA Patients Can’t Be Penalized For Driving While Visibly Impaired By Marijuana

In an unpublished case the Michigan Court of Appeals (People v Donaghy, No. 322677, 2015) interpreted the protections of section 4 of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) in regards to the limitations of section 7(b)(4).  The case involved an individual who was charged with what is commonly known as drugged driving, a violation of the motor vehicle code MCL 257.625 et. seq.   The facts show that the defendant had tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active substance in marijuana as well as alprazolam (Xanax), methadone, and zolpidem (Ambien) in his system.  The defendant at trial requested  a jury instruction regarding his medical marihuana use and registry card as a defense to the operating while visibly impaired charge one of the two counts he was facing. The trial court denied the jury instruction request and the defendant appealed the conviction on many grounds.

The Michigan Court of Appeals decided the case and said “The MMMA’s protections are lost under § 7(b)(4) only when a person operates a vehicle “under the influence” of marijuana and the definition of “under the influence” is determined to be consistent with the phrase’s meaning as a term of art, operating a vehicle while visibility impaired under MCL 257.265(3) as a result of marijuana use, like operating a vehicle while any amount of marijuana is present in a person’s body under MCL 257.265(8), is too low of a threshold to deprive a person with protections under the MMMA that the person would otherwise be entitled to.”  Unfortunately for   the defendant, the ruling was not enough as the court upheld his conviction because the protections from a visibly impaired charge that the MMMA provides would not be relevant when the defendant also had the other controlled substances in his system.  What does this mean for a medical marihuana patient who is arrested for operating while visibly impaired?  The answer is: Dismissal.  If you are charged with any crime involving marijuana and operating a motor vehicle, call attorneys who present a defense and stay current on all the appeal cases. Call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers at 517-512-8364.

 

Annual MMFLA Regulatory Assessments Set

The regulatory assessment fee for the 2018 fiscal year has been announced by LARA.  Each applicant will be required to pay the regulatory assessment after their respective license is approved by the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board.  The class A grower license regulatory assessment will be $10,000.  The class b grower, class c grower,  processor,  provisioning and secure transporter license regulatory assessments have been set at $48,000.  There is no regulatory assessment for safety compliance facilities.  These are annual fees that are expected to be set each year and will likely rise or fall depending on regulatory expenses and the number of licenses.  If you have any questions on how these fees can impact your business or license please call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers at 517-512-8364.  You can read the advisory bulletin detailing the regulatory assessments  here.