Recreational Marijuana Putting Pressure On Michigan Medical Cannabis

Medical marijuana in Michigan
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Supplies of medical cannabis in Michigan could get even tighter as a result of the recent launch of the state’s recreational market.

Michigan has had an active medicinal cannabis program for over a decade and was the 13th state to legalise cannabis for medicinal use. The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act was approved by the state’s voters on November 4, 2008.

Since that time the program has undergone a number of changes, including the addition of eleven new medical conditions in July last year – among those was chronic pain. Apparently the state now has the second-largest population of registered patients in the nation.

This has led to a shortage of medicines at times as there hasn’t been enough commercially grown product to meet demand.

According to Michigan Public Radio, patients can expect further product shortages in 2020. This is in part due to the fact residents have been able to purchase cannabis from retail establishments for recreational (adult) use since December 1.

At the beginning of this month, Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) also began allowing adult-use marijuana retailers that hold a license for a medical marijuana provisioning center to transfer up to 50% of each type of  product (e.g. concentrate, buds, etc.) from their medical inventory to their adult-use inventory.

There are concerns that what has occurred in other states where adult-use has been made legal will occur (or already is occurring) in Michigan.

Patients may choose to drop their registrations, opting to self-medicate using cannabis sold for recreational use. Then issues of quality may come into play given different rules apply. Patients choosing to let their registration lapse will also forgo some of the legal protections available under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

Additionally, a 6% sales and 10% excise tax applies to recreational marijuana, whereas medicinal cannabis only attracts the 6% sales tax.

However, some patients will obviously be welcoming additional options for sourcing cannabis – assuming they can get what they feel they need.

According to MLive, the state had issued 16 retail licenses as at December 17 and for the first two weeks, retail sales totaled $3.1 million.