Michigan Governor Moves to Abolish Medical Marijuana Licensing Board

Today, March 1, 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an order effectively abolishing the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board. The Marijuana Regulatory Agency will take its place and oversee the regulation of both medical and recreational marijuana licensing. Gov. Whitmer was quoted saying, “All elements of this Agency have been designed to serve and better protect Michigan residents, and I’m eager to have a unified effort across state departments to make sure this process runs effectively and efficiently.”

The current plan is to have an Executive Director that is appointed by the Governor run the agency. The director would be limited to a 4 year term. The Agency would also be required to hold 4 public hearings each year to hear complaints and provide information to the public. This order will not go into effect until April 30, 2019. Until then, Republican legislators have 60 days to decide whether to object, veto, or accept the order.

The Michigan Cannabis Lawyers are excited about this new development in Michigan and are hopeful of the positive impact this change will make on the industry. If you are interested in obtaining a license for a marijuana facility or have questions about how the new order may affect you or your prospective business, call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers at 517-512-8364.

So if you eat enough turkey, that would be classified as a drug and they could be arrested, correct?

This is a excerpt from a recent trial where my client was charged with a misdemeanor for driving under the influence of marijuana.  After trial my client was found not guilty.  The cross examination of the DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) officer played a huge part in the result we achieved. To read the officers answer to this question and where it lead click here:

Drugged Driving Trial Excerpt

Recent Changes to MMFLA May Affect Recreational Applicants in the Future

Since recreational marijuana use has been legalized there have been attempts made by those in office to amend the newly passed initiative as well as the existing medical marijuana laws.

A recent House Bill was proposed and struck down that took aim at home cultivation and marijuana micro-businesses. House Bill 1243 was proposed by Republican Senator Arlan Meekhof on November 29. This Bill aimed to ban home cultivation by adults, which was approved by Michigan voters as part of Prop 1. Prop 1 provided in part that those over the age of 21 that are residents of Michigan may legally grow up to 12 marijuana plants in their home. In addition, HB 1243 attempted to derail micro-business licenses altogether. Marijuana micro-businesses are allowed to cultivate up to 150 marijuana plants, process marijuana, and conduct retail sales of marijuana to individuals 21 years or older.

The proposed bill also attempted to lower the excise tax on retail sales of marijuana products from 10% down to 3%, change how the tax revenue would have been distributed and create a licensing board similar to that used in medical marijuana facility licensing. This bill died on December 13, 2018.

Following the failed bill, Senator Meekhof then proposed amending the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act. Senate Bill 1262 was passed by exiting governor Rick Snyder on December 28, 2018, allowing minor investors in medical marijuana businesses to no longer have to undergo financial scrutiny during the application process. Prior to this bill passing, any investors involved in a medical marijuana business holding 1% or more equity were subject to a criminal and financial background check completed by LARA. This bill now allows an investor with a less than 10% ownership interest in the business, and who does not exercise control over any management aspects of the company to not have to complete a financial check. However, a criminal background check is still required.

Additionally, this bill amended the definition of who is considered an applicant during the application process. The MMFLA previously required that a person with any direct or indirect ownership interest in the business must go through a background check, the results of which could then disqualify the applicant. The passed bill no longer considers anyone with a less than 10% ownership interest in the company an applicant. Applicants still include spouses of each partner, limited partners, member or shareholder holding a substantial ownership interest.

The definition was further amended to allow transfers of ownership interest in the company so long as it is approved by the licensing board prior to the transfer and the transferee is considered an applicant under the new definition. This change would allow publicly traded corporations to operate more efficiently when shares are publicly traded so long as the traded amount is less than 10%.

Another notable change in the newly passed bill includes the added crimes related to operating a marijuana facility without a valid license. Beginning June 1, 2019, if a person violates that section by operating a marijuana facility without a license or on a revoked, suspended or lapsed license may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and face a fine not less than $10,000 or more than $25,000, or imprisonment of not more than a year, or both. If the violation of this section results in the death or serious injury of someone then the violator may be charged with a felony punishable by a fine or imprisonment for not more than 4 years.

A minor change made by the bill also allows a licensee to not be required to use a third party inventory system only if the statewide monitoring system is capable of allowing a licensee to access and enter information themselves.

All the aforementioned changes only apply to those applicants that submit an application for a medical marijuana license on or after January 1, 2019. If an applicant has already filed their application before this date these changes do not affect them.

While this bill focuses on medical marijuana sales in the state, its effects do reach into recreational marijuana in Michigan as well. The first recreational licenses to grow, manufacture and sell marijuana, excluding class A grows and micro-businesses, will be awarded to those who already have an operational medical facility license. The impact of these changes will be felt throughout the Michigan marijuana industry as more licenses are approved.

The Michigan Cannabis Lawyers are excited about the prospects of marijuana micro businesses and the niche markets that will develop in Michigan. If you’re interested in starting a marijuana microbusiness or have questions about how the new laws may affect you, call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers at 517-512-8364.

 

Michigan Marihuana Laws – Home Cultivation and Micro Business

A recent House Bill was proposed and struck down that took aim at home cultivation and marihuana microbusinesses. House Bill 1243 was proposed by Republican Senator Arlan Meekhof on November 29. This Bill aimed to ban home cultivation by adults, which was approved by Michigan voters as part of Prop 1. Prop 1 provided in part that those over the age of 21 that are residents of Michigan may legally grow up to 12 marihuana plants in their home. In addition, HB 1243 attempted to derail micro business licenses altogether. Maruhuana micro business are issued a micro license, which permits the licensee to vertically integrate the cultivation of up to 150 marihuana plants, processing of marihuana, and retail sale to individuals 21 years or older.

The proposed bill also attempted to lower the excise tax on retail sales of marijuana products from 10% down to 3%, change how the tax revenue would have been distributed and create a licensing board similar to that used in medical marijuana facility licensing. This bill died on December 13, 2018 and has, for now, alleviated some concern regarding a rewrite of the law currently in effect.

The Michigan Cannabis Lawyers are excited about the prospects of marihuana micro businesses and the niche markets that will develop in Michigan. If you’re interested in starting a marihuana microbusiness or have questions about how the new laws may affect you, call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers at 517-512-8364.

Michigan Marijuana Micro-License

The newly enacted law which legalized recreational marijuana in Michigan allows for individuals with marijuana related felonies the opportunity to apply for licenses to operate marijuana businesses. Section 8.1, subsection c, of the new marijuana statue states, “a prior conviction solely for a marijuana related offense does not disqualify an individual who is otherwise eligible for licensure, unless the offense involved distribution of a controlled substance to a minor.” Those that were precluded from obtaining a medical marijuana facility license may now have a path to operate a commercial recreational marijuana facility under the laws recently passed by voter initiative. If you have a prior marijuana related felony and want to know more about applying for a micro business license or any other type of license for recreational marijuana, call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers at (517) 512-8364.

How Michigan Prosecutors are Dealing with the Legalization of Marijuana

After Michigan decided to legalize recreational marijuana on November 6, 218, several county prosecutors across Michigan have started dismissing cases involving marijuana. Oakland County prosecutors have already tossed various cases with pending charges in the district and circuit court systems. Also, Muskegon County prosecutors have dismissed all pending marijuana cases that comply with the requirements of the recently passed proposal. Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Calhoun County have also followed suit. While there are still avenues to violating the law, prosecuting offices have been considering what they will do with pending cases involving use, possession, manufacture or delivery.

Clare County prosecutors have plans to dismiss several pending cases limited to possession charges, whereas Kent County is looking into dismissing cases that involve use or possession of marijuana. Most dismissals are based on a case by case basis. In Ingham county, while magistrates are no longer accepting warrant requests for marijuana related crimes, the cases already pending are being looked at closely before being dismissed.

Some counties are not being as lenient however. In Wayne County, a prosecutor has stated that her office is committed to following the law regarding the prosecution of marijuana cases. Additionally, Wexford County is choosing not to dismiss pending cases of any sort. While pending cases are more likely to be dismissed at this time several counties are considering what to do regarding applying the new marijuana statute retroactively to cases that have already been prosecuted.

If you have a pending marijuana charge and want to better understand how the legalization of recreational marijuana will affect your current situation, you need a lawyer that understands Michigan marijuana law. Call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers at (517) 512-8364.

Michigan Medical Marihuana Criminal Law: Section 8 Affirmative Defense

A registered primary caregiver was charged with manufacturing 20 or more but fewer than 200 marijuana plants, possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony and possessing with intent to deliver 5 kilograms or more but less than 45 kilograms of marihuana. Those are some pretty serious charges. A §8 defense was raised by defendant but the trial court did not allow him to present his affirmative defense at trial. The trial court determined that defendant did not satisfy his burden of presenting prima facie evidence for each element of §8 of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA). The element at issue was the existence of a bona fide physician-patient relationship.

Section 8 states that a primary caregiver has the burden of establishing by prima facie evidence the elements of subsection (a)(1) for each patient to whom the primary caregiver is alleged to have unlawfully provided marihuana. The Supreme Court in People v. Hartwick reduced the requirements of (a)(1) into three elements:
1. The existence of a bona fide physician-patient relationship,
2. In which the physician completes a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, and
3. From which results the physician’s professional opinion that the patient has a debilitating medical condition and will likely benefit from the medical use of marijuana to treat the medical condition.

Defendant and his registered qualifying patients testified about their interactions with a Dr. Kattoo. The Court found that only one patient was able provide evidence to support a bona fide physician-patient relationship. The Court noted that no actual medical records or testimony from  certifying physicians was admitted into evidence. “Without the showing of records the trial court could not determine whether records were created and maintained in accordance with medically-accepted standards.”

A Section 8 defense to a crime involving marijuana is no easy task. Call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers at 517-512-8364 to speak to a cannabis warrior.

Medical Marijuana and Alimony / Spousal Support

In Beauchamp v. Beauchamp, the trial court awarded defendant his medical marijuana grow operation as part of the marital assets and awarded plaintiff spousal support based on consideration of the income defendant received for the sale of medical marijuana to his qualified patients. The Court of Appeals affirmed on Defendant’s . For most of the parties’ marriage, defendant’s primary occupation was operating his drywall business. After battling lung cancer in 2014, defendant was unable to work full time doing drywall and by the summer of that year his primary focus was on his marijuana grow operation. He became a registered caregiver for five qualified patients. Plaintiff suspected he was selling to others outside of his five patients. Plaintiff subsequently filed for divorce June 2016.

The trial court considered the grow operation to be part of the marital assets because defendant began the operation during the marriage and used funds from the marriage to start the project. When determining the amount of spousal support to be awarded, the defendant’s income was considered to be a combination of his average income derived from the drywall business and from the medical marijuana grow respectively. Between 2015 and 2017 the court concluded that defendant made $15,300 per year from his drywall business and $120,000 a year from the grow operation. Defendant argued that legally he is unable to profit from the growth and sale of marijuana under the MMMA. The Court of Appeals denied this argument considering the unique circumstances of the case and the trial court’s attempt to balance the entirety of the parties’ incomes in a just and reasonable manner. Additionally, defendant admitted to receiving funds in excess of what was necessary to make up for the costs he accumulated in maintaining his grow operation and he would keep the surplus for his personal use.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the lower court was correct in considering the marijuana grow operation to be part of the marital assets due to the income it brought to the family while plaintiff and defendant were still married, and that the $1,900 per month spousal support payment does not fall within the range of unreasonableness given the calculations of defendant’s income.

Understanding how the MMMA intersects with and impacts the appropriation of assets in a divorce can be complicated. Call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers to ensure your rights are protected.

Useable Marihuana and Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Act

In People v. Mansour, defendant’s home was searched by police and an indoor marijuana grow operation was discovered in her basement. The grow consisted of 126 plants and approximately 550 grams of marijuana buds on a drying rack. Mansour was charged with 1 count of delivery or manufacture of marijuana and 1 count of delivery or manufacture of 20 or more marijuana plants. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the charges based on her status as a registered medical marijuana patient, which allows her to be entitled to immunity under §4 of the MMMA.
This provision states that, “a qualifying patient…shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty….for the medical use of marijuana…provided that the qualifying patient possesses an amount of marijuana that does not exceed 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana.” MCL 333.26424(a)(emphasis added).
Under MCL 333.26423(n), “usable marijuana” includes the dried leaves and flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof.” Defendant argued that the 550 grams of marijuana buds were “unusable” because they were not yet dry and therefore must be excluded when considering her claim of immunity under §4 of the MMMA.
Prosecution argued that the precedent of People v. Carruthers, 301 Mich App 590, 609; 837 NW2d 16 (2013), is controlling and that the court must look at the total amount of marijuana defendant was found in possession of, not just the amount of “usable” marijuana. In Carruthers, defendant was found to be possession of marijuana infused brownies which was not considered to be usable marijuana under the MMMA. The Court concluded that if a registered patient is in possession of any marijuana that is not considered usable marijuana then he or she possesses an amount that is in excess of the permitted amount of usable marijuana. Following this decision, the Legislature expanded the MMMA definition of usable marijuana, effective December 2016.
Defendant argued that People v. Manuel, 319 Mich App 291; 901 NW2d 118(2017), should be the controlling precedent of the Court which would limit the amount of marijuana defendant was found in possession of to only the usable marijuana. In Manual, the defendant was both a qualified patient and a primary caregiver which allowed him to be in possession of up to 15 ounces. The amount he was found to be in possession of exceeded 15 ounces, but defendant argued that the marijuana was in “various stages of drying” and therefore was unusable by definition. Id at 123. The Court held that due to the marijuana being unusable defendant was entitled to §4 immunity.
In this case the Court held to interpret §4 immunity as it did in Carruthers, utilizing a two prong test that asks, “whether a possessor of marijuana possesses an allowed quantity of usable marijuana” and further inquiries “whether that person possesses any quantity of marijuana that does not constitute usable marijuana under the term-of-art- definition of the MMMA.” Carruthers, 301 Mich App at 610. Based on this approach, a registered qualifying patient in possession of any amount of marijuana that does not qualify as usable marijuana is not entitled to immunity under §4 of the MMMA. Therefore, defendant is considered to be in possession of marijuana that is not usable so she is not entitled to §4 immunity.

Michigan’s laws on marijuana are constantly changing. Make sure you are not caught off guard and ensure your interests are represented by competent and experienced attorneys who actually know a thing or two about cannabis. Call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers today at 517-512-8364.

Michigan Marijuana Microbusiness

Marihuana micro licensing is a type of licensing regulation utilized in states where the recreational use of marihuana has been legalized. Similar to microbreweries for the production and sale of alcohol, marihuana microbusinesses are independently owned businesses that grow, process and sell their own marihuana. By applying for a micro license, an individual 21 years of age or older may be allowed to grow, process, and sell marihuana to others 21 or older, with certain limitations placed on the quantity the micro licensee may grow and to whom they may sell their product.

In the state of Michigan, a proposed initiative called the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA) would allow an adult, 21 years of age or older, to apply for a license to operate a marihuana microbusiness. A microbusiness, as defined in MRTMA, allows an individual to operate a marihuana business cultivating not more than 150 plants, processing and packaging marihuana products made from plants they grew, and selling and transferring marihuana to individuals who are 21 years of age or older, but the licensee may not sell to or purchase from other marihuana establishments. Therefore, a licensee may not conduct business with another marihuana grower, processor, retailer, or any type of marihuana related business.

If you have been interested in getting into Michigan’s marihuana industry and are excited about a new sector of that industry, contact the lawyers who stay on the cutting edge.

Call the Michigan Cannabis Lawyers today at 517-512-8364.