Brownies at 4:20, Part 2: Medical Marijuana Update

By Rachael M. Sedlacek posted 10-30-2017 09:52


I’m covering medical marijuana a lot these days, which is fascinating since I have no personal experience with this drug. This 14-year-old girl in the Vans jacket basically sums up how that’s possible.

It’s on my radar for several reasons. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) recently issued a press release outlining some of the things we can expect in the coming months in connection with the implementation of the Medical Marihuana Facility Licensing Act (MMFLA). (If you need a primer on this new act, our on-demand seminar with Bob Hendricks and Mary Chartier should be helpful.) Dispensaries currently serving patients may have to stop after December 15, 2017, when LARA starts taking applications for licenses under the MMFLA. If dispensaries keep operating after that date, LARA says it may be a “potential impediment to licensure.” Patients will want to associate with a caregiver before December 15 because it’s unclear how long it will be before LARA issues licenses.

LARA also announced possible fees for applications and annual assessments. The exact figure will apparently depend on the number of applications received. The application fee is expected to be $4,000-$8,000, and the annual regulatory assessment has a range of $10,000-$57,000, except Class A grower licenses, which have a statutory cap of $10,000. These application and regulatory assessment fees are generally higher than similar costs associated with liquor license applications and renewals. See MCL 436.1525, .1531.

Unsurprisingly, criminal lawyers have told us that they’ve been handling a lot more marijuana-related cases. In the Drunk and Drugged Driving Update 2017, Dan Larin reported that half the cases his firm is handling right now are related to marijuana or drugs. In cases where the defendant has a medical marijuana card, Dan says the state has to show impairment. Consequently, the focus of the defense should be how the defendant was driving. It is much more difficult for the state to prove impairment if the defendant was speeding than if he or she was weaving over the center line. And Bob notes that cardholders can help reduce problems for themselves if they are stopped by keeping their marijuana in an enclosed case in the trunk or in another inaccessible area of a vehicle with no trunk.

We will continue to expand our resources in this growing area of law.  Please feel free to respond in the comments with any issues you are facing involving medical marijuana.