The regulatory authority in charge of the medical marijuana industry in Michigan is LARA (The department of licensing and regulatory affairs). Currently, they are proposing a new set of rules. According to Michigan.gov, cardholders can expect a 33% reduction in their state application fee. In addition, officials aim to eliminate various other processing charges. The goal of the new rules is to cut costs for patients. The administration drafted these changes shortly after expanding their available online services. Instead of increasing profits, they openly passed on the savings.
The state has been lacking when it comes to licensing businesses in a timely fashion. However, they have a solid system available to patients and caregivers. Online services mentioned earlier include : ability to submit application online, check status of application, renew or replace cards, remove caregivers, and withdrawal from the program. Hopefully it will incentivize more people to renew. It will be easy for many to simply let their card expire, now that weed is legal. Possesion limits remain the same unless you’re a caregiver. The patient-caregiver system is great, and I hope it continues to thrive. It promotes the small batch craft cannabis growers.
Proposed Rule Changes
All of the changes seem to benefit registered patients. The key changes include:
- Changing the application fee from $60 to $40.
- Eliminate $25 caregiver background check fee.
- Eliminate $10 Change form fee(replace card fee).
- Extends the renewal period from 60 days to 90 days.
- Allows MMMP staff to contact patients/caregivers by e-mail to increase response speed.
- Allow patients to change the person authorized to posses plants at any time.
Michigan passed medical marijuana in 2008, and dispensaries were not legally operating at the time. The regulatory system has been in place over 10 years. Each year they’ve improved and now it seems the state has mastered the administrative role. Hopefully in a few years we will say the same thing about commercial licensing. No one here is an expert at regulating this plant, so trial and error should be expected. Those getting into the industry right off the bat need to be ready for unexpected rules and procedures.
A public hearing will be scheduled next month and hear the communities opinion on the proposed changes. LARA will not make any of these changes before the hearing.
Many cannabis consumers are going to be shocked to realize their pot smoking might make them eligible for some cash back from the government. Canada legalized weed nationwide and it’s the second country in the world to do it. Even so, for them to return millions of tax dollars back to smokers sounds too good to be true. However, the Canada Revenue Agency considers cannabis to be a permitted medical expense. Some canadians can include cannabis on tax returns. Those looking to cash in need to meet several specific conditions before anything can be written off. First, the person using marijuana needs to prove they possess a prescription to use the drug from their licensed physician. If you’re a recreational user, then kiss that money spent on weed goodbye. The CRA is not going to refund everyone in the country that wants to get high, regardless of how much money in taxes they are pulling in.
The second obstacle to obtaining a tax retun for weed is showing it comes from a licensed producer. Buying from unlicensed distributors means the government isn’t going to receive their tax. This never makes them happy. It certainly will not make them want to give you additional deductibles. So if it isn’t a habit already, start saving all the receipts from the provisioning center. The payback is going to be huge for daily users. It will also highlight how much of the yearly budget goes to the sweet leaf. Once that realization is made, many begin to grow. That realization is what helped me get started, outside of my intense interest.
All medical marijuana expenses cannot be written off. Canada gives patients the option to subtract either a number or percentage from the total expense. Options include subtracting $2,268 or 3% of the user’s net income. So if you make more then roughly $74,000/yr you would opt to subtract the $2268 from the yearly expense. Everyone else could benefit by subtracting a substantially smaller amount. Someone making 40,000/yr only needs to reduce $1200 from their yearly cannabis expense.
Despite all the restrictions, it still seems like a fair deal for the Canadian people. It likely will be a really long time before the U.S. refunds anybody for pot. Becoming federally legal for medical purposes is the first hurdle. People all across our country are purchasing medicine from licensed producers. The blatant difference is the federal government sees them as criminals instead of patients.
Yesterday was a major victory for patients suffering from a variety of serious diseases in Michigan. People who couldn’t qualify to use marijuana legally either risked prosecution or continued to use less effective pharmecutical drugs. The existing list before the change took effect only included eight conditions. They more than doubled that list by adding 10 new qualifying conditions that a physician can legally recommend marijuana for. The old list included cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Chron’s disease, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Now protection will be expanded to those suffering from arthritis, autism, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injury, Tourette’s syndrome, and colitis. I would expect to see an explosion in the number of registered patients in my state as a result of this change. The number of people who have one of these new conditions is enormous, but many will not take advantage of the expanded coverage.
I think that the most noticeable difference will be an increase in the amount of elderly medical marijuana users. One of the key conditions that now qualifies is arthritis. This disease is more common among the older generation and its addition to the list will likely attract some senior citizens. I also believe that with the success of marijuana legalization across the country and in Canada, more people will be questioning their negative attitude surrounding the plant. When I have visited local dispensaries rarely did I see anyone over the age of 65 in there. However, this is likely because they have registered caregivers that grow or acquire their medicine for them so they don’t have to travel. This age group is generally known for their opposition to drugs that have been illegal their entire lives. Those facing old age are the ones who need cannabis the most and hopefully, these new conditions will lead more elderly patients to try alternative medicine.
There seems to only be positive results when more conditions are allowed to be treated using marijuana. If I were to write the law it wouldn’t be a list of qualifying conditions, but rather discretion would be given to physicians. They should be able to recommend marijuana whenever they feel it could positively benefit their patient. Leaving it up to the government to decide what conditions should qualify doesn’t make sense. Doctors are the ones who have the most knowledge regarding the side effects of diseases and are familiar with each patient’s unique scenario. Either way, there will be a noticeable growth in the economy of medical marijuana businesses in order to meet the demand of more registered patients. More jobs are going to come to the state if recreational marijuana passes in November and now we don’t need to wait until then. Dispensaries and cultivation facilities will need additional help and more new facilities will probably start springing up as well.
Compared to other states medical marijuana programs, Michigan is definitely blessed. Looking at Ohio cities banning home cultivation or other states like Texas only allowing CBD oil for seizures makes our laws feel relaxed. We pretty much lie right in the middle of the spectrum of marijuana enforcement. There are lots of dispensaries to shop from across the state but only in large cities like Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing, and a few others. For people who live far away from these areas, their selection is limited to the black market or what they themselves can grow. At least these patients are still being provided protection from the law despite accessibility issues. Ten years down the line I envision Michigan’s marijuana industry to be developed like the west coast currently is. We are just a little behind the marijuana pioneers but still on the right track.