Marijuana Changes Affect Caregivers and Retail Centers
"When you're doing these regulations you need to keep in mind we're all about the local mom and pops."
Changes announced by the Michigan Regulatory Agency will “phase out” the ability of caregivers to provide marijuana to facilities. Commercial growers will be taking over.
Jordan Ezell with Interlochen Alternative Health says, “The flower is what there was a huge shortage of, and the caregivers kind of filled that gap so to speak.”
During the ongoing transition to a regulated marijuana market, the Michigan Regulatory Agency – the MRA – has allowed certain licensed facilities to continue to source their product from caregivers. Selling those “extras” helped provisioning centers facing a short supply.
Ezell says the timeline for a new business didn’t line up with the time it takes to grow marijuana. “When a dispensary gets a license they can open the next day, but a grower when he gets a license it’s 5-6 months before they produce anything.”
But that will all be changing. The MRA says now, with nearly 200 grower licenses and more than 25 processor licenses for medical marijuana, it’s resulted in an increase in supply. But not everyone is convinced it will be enough to keep with with the opening of new dispensaries and provisioning centers.
Steven Thompson is the Director of the Benzie County Chapter of NORML. “I think we’re going to find a problem in that while we have some licensed commercial growers up and running, we’re going to run into a problem with supply and demand. So there very well could be another extension granted (by the MRA).”
Thompson thinks supply and demand still won’t be in line with one another, and predicts more problems with sales on the black market. Another concern is not just quantity – but quality. “I think you’re going to see the quality go down. Because the commercial grows are just that, they’re commercial grows. It’s kind of like the alcohol industry. you know you have your Budweiser that’s ever-prevalent, and you have your local craft breweries that are done by local people.”
Jordan Ezell agrees. “The caregiver product is a better quality product than what the commercial growers are putting out. and not only that but the commercial growers are not producing at a high enough rate right now.”
But an increase in supply could lead to a decrease in price. Ezell says, “The way it is right now, the growers are at an advantage, the processors are at an advantage. The dispensaries are at a clear disadvantage. We want to keep our prices fair to the consumer because they don’t know about all this stuff going on.”
Licensed businesses have seven months to adjust to the change. The phase-out process begins immediately and ends on September 30th of this year.
Thompson wants to point out that the changes “in no way affects those 21 and over now, whether they’re a patient or not, they still have the right to grow their own.”
You can see the new rules for growers and processors here.