Michigan Marijuana industry sounds off on proposed rules – MLive.com

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LANSING, MI — More than 30 people last week weighed on proposed rules for Michigan’s marijuana industry, including the recreational market that opened Dec. 1.

While many comments focused on a clause that would force businesses to sign an agreement, referred to as a “labor peace agreement,” with unions, an array of others addressed concerns ranging from strict testing requirements to an upcoming March 1 rule that will further limit caregivers sales to the licensed market.

Here’s a breakdown of what the public had to say, not including comment on the union issue, which MLive previously covered in another story:

  • Michigan Cannabis Industry Association director Steve Linder said his trade organization will “oppose the rules in their entirety” if the state moves forward with a requirement that bars growers and processors from selectively deciding who they sell to, which could mean they are forced to sell product to competitors. “Controlling the supply chain is really not the role of government,” Linder said.
  • Michigan Cannabis Industry Association Director Robin Schneider said her nearly 200 licensed members would like “as many opportunities as possible” to retest marijuana that fails testing, especially if it can be brought to within acceptable limits with more drying time, UV lights or a use of willow machine.
  • Schnedier said her members would like the rules to allow processing facilities the ability to freeze and store marijuana. Currently rules would only allow that to occur at a grow facility, she said.
  • Schneider wants clarity as to under which circumstances the growers would be forced to sell their products. “We understand the intent is to stop stockpiling during a shortage but our members want clarity to exactly what that threshold would be,” she said.
  • Rick Thompson, publisher of the Michigan Cannabis Industries Report, said the state is infringing on private citizen marijuana rights in an effort to give big businesses an advantage. He said the scope of the definition offered for a “consumption establishment” is too broad and could make ordinary citizens into “accidental criminals.” The proposed rules define a consumption establishment as: “A person that allows consumption of marijuana products on the premises of a non-residential location and charges a fee for entry, sells goods or services while individuals are consuming on the premises or requires membership for entry.”
  • Thompson takes issue with rumors he’s heard that events like Ann Arbor’s Hash Bash and Monroe Street Fair, both events where marijuana consumption is prevalent, will be required to obtain event permits under the rules. “There’s no admission charge, nor are there vendors selling cannabis at either event, therefore, these seem not to meet the requirement,” he said.
  • A lot of businesses are in the pre-qualification phase of the licensing process, which is the preliminary, first step. Once a business is pre-qualified, it has a year to complete its business licensing, which includes having a final inspection of their property. A speaker said the year deadline is not enough, especially for growers and processors who need to construct or build out a large facility. He would like that state to allow for a longer, year extension.
  • Speaker Brandon Campbell wants clarification on the plant count for micro-businesses. The proposed rules allow a micro-business, a self-contained marijuana business that grows, processes and sells its own marijuana, to grow up to 150 plants. Only female plants that produce marijuana flower are counted in the total.
  • Campbell said he would like to see a new license category for caregivers, who aren’t regulated or taxed under the licensing system and are consequently forced to operate in a “gray area.”
  • Miranda Burnham, a student at Oakland University in the Environmental Health and Safety Program, said current laws limit marijuana waste to disposal by composting, landfills, in-vessel digestion and incineration. “New technology from Canada offers the ability to run cannabis waste into water that … can be reused for human consumption or plant consumption.” She’d like the state to explore this and other waste disposal methods.
  • Roma Thurin, an attorney and partner with the Thurin Law Group, would like businesses with multiple licensed facilities to be allowed to use one camera system throughout their licensed facilities. Currently, each separate facility requires a separate camera system, she said.
  • Thurin would like a requirement that any contractor be supervised at all times while inside a licensed facility be removed for screened contractors.
  • Thurin said new testing standards should come with a grace period.
  • Kelly Young would like local municipalities to be able to establish their own zoning rules without being trumped by the state zoning rules.
  • Allison Ireton of Ann Arbor’s Huron Valley Law, criticized the pace at which the state implements testing changes and the lack of lead time. “My clients would appreciate a heads up and the ability to provide feedback,” she said. She is also requesting more re-testing opportunities for total yeast and mold. Currently failed marijuana is only allowed one retest for yeast and mold.
  • Ireton said 100 percent of marijuana that fails for medical use but passes for the recreational market, since some of the testing standards are different, should be able to be sold in the recreational market. Currently, the rules only allow for half to be transferred for recreational use.
  • As of March 1, caregivers will be banned from selling anything but marijuana flower to licensed businesses. Mary Rose Angelo, a caregiver who owns an organic and vegan marijuana edibles line, is asking for an extension to at least allow caregivers like herself enough time to obtain micro-business licenses without losing their source of income in the meantime.
  • Jeffrey Hank said the “nickel, copper and chromium” testing limits need to go. He said he’s heard the push for stricter testing is the result of “a conspiracy” by large companies to push out smaller, outdoor growers and caregivers, since outdoor product is more likely to fail for the presence of those metals due to soil content.
  • Hank said the rules should allow for food and drink in marijuana consumption establishments.
  • Brandon Massay recommends grow limits be established by power usage, rather than plants, since he said power usage correlates more closely to the weight of a flower harvest than the plant count.
  • Travis Klinger, a city commissioner from Sturgis, recommended allowing provisioning centers and retail stores the ability to allow on-site consumption.
  • Carie Massay wants testing to only be required if marijuana transfers between entities that are not under the same ownership, since it’s an unnecessary cost burden and bogs down testing facilities.
  • Marijuana attorney Matt Abel believes a 90-day requirement for marijuana special event applications should be reduced, he recommended about 10 days.
  • Rebecca Colette said the marijuana industry equity program, meant to help people in communities where prior prohibition disproportionately impacted residents, doesn’t go far enough. She would like it expanded to include medical marijuana and allow greater funding opportunities. Currently, she said, social equity applicants only save money reductions to the $6,000 application fee.

Video from the meeting:

The public comment will be reviewed by the Marijuana Regulatory Agency and changes, once approved by the director and after a legal review, will be sent to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. The committee may vote to pass the rules or send them back for further revision.

Brisbo said he expects permanent rules could be approved and in place by May. Emergency rules that are currently guiding the recreational marijuana industry expire on July 3.

— Gus Burns is the marijuana beat reporter for MLive. Contact him with questions, tips or comments at fburns@mlive.com or follow him on Twitter, @GusBurns. Read more from MLive about medical and recreational marijuana.

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This article originally appeared here in https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2020/02/michigan-marijuana-industry-sounds-off-on-proposed-rules.html

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