The buzz around medical marijuana is at an all-time high in Michigan, and Tuesday’s meeting in Lansing with the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation definitely proved that to be true.
The meeting was quite chaotic from start to finish- similar to something out of a Parks and Recreation Episode. There were people constantly shouting out in disapproval to statements being made, one person put in a fake comment card to prove a point, and… oh yah, former police chief Donald Bailey (board member) was served court paperwork!! I felt bad for the one anti-cannabis advocate who stood up, only to get in 3 words before being boo’d out of the facility.
Tensions are high, and rightfully so. After the board revealed all sorts of fees and taxes that will be imposed on licensee applicants, including a hefty capitalization charge, the small business owners felt as if their dreams and businesses- something they worked extremely hard to create were destined to fail. The big fear with the crowd was that the board is making it too difficult for the small guys to succeed, and too easy for the big players to dominate. There was concern that this industry was being treated similarly to the tobacco and alcohol industry (both of those are recreational products) as opposed to being treated like the medical product that, by law, it is.
Through all that discussion, however, a lot of great points and comments were made. It looked as if the board was taking diligent notes, and hopefully will take to heart the opinions and advice of activists who are in the industry. The backlash to the proposed licensee application requirements appeared to be strong enough to merit the opportunity to compromise and ease up on some of the regulations set forth. But only time will tell.
The best part of the meeting (in my opinion) was the insurance portion. For those who don’t know, as part of the new cannabis licensee requirements, all applicants are required to show proof of liability insurance along with coverage for their personal property. After two dispensary owners took the stand to share their experiences on how difficult it was for them to secure insurance, I ran up to put a comment card in and thankfully got the chance to say my piece. The response from the attendees showed people were very pleased to know there was an agency out there completely devoted to providing coverage to all cannabis related businesses.
Despite all of the chaos, the meeting was productive and no one held their opinions back. Tough things that needed to be said were said. And at the end of the day, the marijuana market is one step closer to being a regulated, sustainable industry that should bring plenty of jobs, and flourish throughout Michigan for years to come.