Michigan Following in Canada’s Footsteps
By Saira Saleem, Manager Licensing & Compliance
With close proximity to Canada, it shouldn’t surprise us that the State of Michigan is taking leaps and bounds towards the adult-use legalization of cannabis. And what they are doing seems remarkably close to home.
From the U.S federal perspective, it remains a challenge to foresee the direction that cannabis legalization will go; however, Michigan’s medical cannabis framework is a close reflection of Canada’s. In Michigan, the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (BMMR) is responsible for the oversight of medical cannabis in Michigan and consists of the Medical Marihuana Facility Licensing Division and the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program under the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
Medical cannabis was legalized in Michigan in 2008, however the current Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act was most recently amended in December 2017 and opened the window to receive applications for the medical program. In November 2017, over 365,000 supporters of the Michigan Marijuana Legalization Initiative filed a petition to get recreational use legalization measures placed on the ballot at the state legislature in November 2017. From the north, we can only wait to see when exactly adult-use cannabis will be adopted in Michigan, but so far the framework has a lot of parallels with Canada.
There is a reason why we are talking about Michigan. Their medical cannabis framework is very similar to the new cannabis framework in Canada (rolling out in 2018-2019). Some noteworthy points:
- The application process is similar: both Michigan and Canada require the same components for the application – business plan, security plan, premise diagrams and full criminal background check. Canada has made recent advancements on physical security plan however by allowing for a Security Directive exemption to remove cameras from inside the grow rooms, but this remains a requirement in Michigan where the premise must have video surveillance in “limited access areas” such as grow rooms, secure storage, packaging, drying, and weighing rooms.
- The licences for which that an applicant can apply in Michigan are a preview for what is coming in Canada. In Michigan there are 5 types of licences: Grower, Processor, Provisioning Centre (i.e., Dispensary, Safety and Compliance (i.e.: Testing Laboratory) and Transporter. Under the Grower Licence a producer can grow up to 500 plants (Class A), up to 1,000 plants (Class B) or up to 1,500 plant (Class C). Class C growers are also allowed to become a “mega grower” by applying for stacking licenses (not proposed in Canada).
- Canada’s future point of sale for recreational products mirrors Michigan’s current “provisional centres” – which are the point of sale for medical cannabis to patients. As the regulations change this year in Canada, the retail store front will allow individuals to purchase cannabis similar to that of the provisional centres in Michigan albeit for recreational purposes.
For packaging labelling requirements, there are similarities between Michigan and Canada. In fact, only one month after LARA released the universal THC symbol that is required to be on all cannabis products in Michigan, Health Canada released a similar THC symbol that will be included on the packaging/labelling of cannabis products in Canada.
A noted difference between Canada and Michigan, however, is that in Michigan there is an emphasis on reviewing the financial background of applicants as part of the application process. As per the regulations in Michigan, an applicant and any persons who have a direct or indirect interest in the applicant, as well as any officers, directors, and managerial employees of the applicant, shall disclose all the financial information required in the Act.These rules are in a format created by the department including, but not limited to, the following: banking information, loans, trusts, funds, securities, lenders information. In the future, it will be interesting to see if this requirement is requested upfront by Health Canada as the Canadian regulations evolve this year.
One other difference in the licensing process is the change Health Canada has recently made to the pre-licensing inspection requirements. In Michigan, all businesses must undergo a pre-licensure inspection which includes a physical inspection to ensure the safety, security, and integrity of the operation of a proposed cannabis facility prior to being granted a licence. In Canada there is now doing a two-step process leading into the issuance of the licence: (1) An “evidence package” to be submitted by the applicant which consists of video and pictures of the site demonstrating compliance to the regulations and security measures which provides the applicant a “licence to produce”; then (2) an inspection of their facility, products, processes, and records prior to being approved for a “license to sell”. In Michigan, however, It’s a single process which simplifies the process, but it also puts added pressure on passing that first inspection with flying colours.
Finally, we can say that Michigan already has a more liberal approach for cannabis products and cultivation when it compares to Canada’s “legalization” front. In Michigan, a Processor licence permits a business to manufacture infused products, edibles, topical formulations, and tinctures. As well in Michigan, cultivation may occur in an outdoor area. We aren’t growing outside or licencing edibles in Canada, yet, but we’re getting closer.
CCI’s track record in Canada is a good predictor for our abilities in Michigan. We are available to assist all applicants in completing their applications to become authorized marihuana growers, processors, provisional centres, transporters and safety and compliance businesses in the State of Michigan. We have gained a tremendous track record in submitting and supporting hundreds of applications to Health Canada under the ACMPR and continue to gain traction in the U.S and all over the world.