After September 15, Can I Still be a Caregiver?

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The Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation is standing firm on their stance that all cannabis facilities that are not licensed by the State under the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, will need to close down, and will receive a cease and desist letter at that time. While the centers are not mandated to shut down, the State Bureau of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has explained that any facility that continues to run after receipt of the cease and desist will likely not be given a license. Additionally, the State has stated suggested Final Rules regarding Medical Marihuana Facilities licensing, which is going to enable or registered qualifying clients to receive home deliveries from provisioning centers (with restriction, of course) and will likewise allow online buying. So, where does that leave registered caregivers, that were anticipating to be able to remain relevant to their clients till 2021?

Traditional Model

The old model for registered caregivers was quite easy. You were allowed to grow up to twelve plants for each patient. You could have five patients, apart from yourself. If the caregiver was also a client, they could also grow twelve plants for personal usage too. So, a caregiver could cultivate an overall of seventy-two marihuana plants. Many caregivers produced far more usable marihuana from those plants than they could make use of for patients and personal use. The caregivers would then sell their excess product to medical marihuana dispensaries.

Under the emergency rules, marihuana dispensaries that were operating with municipal authorization, but that had not obtained a State license were permitted to continue operating as well as purchasing from registered caregivers. Those facilities were allowed to buy caregiver overages for thirty days after receiving their State license for supply. That indicated significant revenues for caregivers and substantial supply for dispensaries.

After September 15, 2018

The problems for registered caregivers only starts on September 15, 2018. All State licensed facilities that will continue to be open and operating can not buy any type of product from caregivers. State Licensed Provisioning Centers, but statute and administrative rules are strictly forbidden from acquiring or offering any type of product that is not produced by a State Licensed Grower or Processor that has actually had their item tested and certified by a State Licensed Safety Compliance Facility. Any State Licensed Provisioning Center that is found to have product up for sale that is not from a State Licensed Grower or Processor is subject to State sanctions on their license, including short-term or permanent abrogation of the license. Given the danger, licensed facilities are really unlikely to take the chance of buying from a caregiver, given the prospective repercussions.

Further, the unlicensed centers to whom caregivers have been continuing to market to, even throughout the licensing process, will be closing down. Some might continue to run, but given the State’s stance on facilities that do not adhere to their cease and desist letters being looked at very adversely in the licensing process, the market will be significantly diminished, if not eliminated. Consequently, caregivers will not have much choice for selling their overages, and also will certainly be restricted only to their present clients.

New Administrative Rules

A hearing will be held on September 17, 2018 pertaining to the new recommended final administrative rules for the regulation of medical marihuana facilities, which will become effective in November, when the emergency rules discontinue being effective. Those final recommended administrative rules enable home delivery by a provisioning center, and will likewise permit controlled online purchasing. Those 2 things remove much of the function contemplated by caregivers under the new guidelines. Clients would still require them to head to the provisioning center to get and deliver cannabis to patients that were too unwell or that were impaired and can not reach those licensed centers to get their medicinal marijuana. With this change to the administrative rules, such patients will no longer need a caregiver. They will have the ability to place an order online and have the provisioning center deliver it to them, essentially getting rid of the need of a caregiver.

Verdict

For better or worse, the State is doing everything it can to remove caregivers under the new administrative system, even prior to the planned elimination in 2021 contemplated by the MMFLA. There are a great deal of factors the State could be doing it, but that is of little comfort to caregivers. The bottom line is, the State is getting rid of the caregiver model, and they are moving that process along with celerity. The State is sending the message that they desire caregivers out of the market asap, and they are establishing rules to ensure that occurs sooner rather than later. The caregiver model, while helpful and essential under the old Michigan Medical Marihuana Act structure, are now going the way of the Dodo. Like everything else, the Marihuana regulations are evolving, and some things that have prospered in the past, will not make it to see the new legalized era.

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