Michigan Medical Marijuana Act: Keep Your Business and Medicine Legal
By Matthew Donigian, NORML Legal Intern, University of Illinois — College of Law
On November 4, 2008 63 percent of Michigan voters enacted the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program (MMMP). Since then the state of Michigan has registered over 75,000 patients, who are now eligible to receive medical marijuana for serious illnesses, including: Cancer, HIV, glaucoma, severe/chronic pain, severe nausea, etc. Like other states that have passed medical marijuana legislation, Michigan has made it safer for patients to receive the medicine they need. However, marijuana is still far from legal and both patients and caregivers should be sure they understand the limitations of the law.
Under Michigan law, medical marijuana patients who have been issued a registry identification card are allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Additionally, medical marijuana patients are allowed to grow up to 12 marijuana plants. However, patients who choose to grow their own marijuana cannot have a caregiver growing for them.
Caregivers are required to follow laws similar to those followed by patients. Caregivers are required to register with a patient and the state, and if they are not registered as a patient’s caregiver, they may NOT dispense marijuana to them. Caregivers are allowed to register up to 5 patients and may possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for each of their patients. If a patient has registered a caregiver to cultivate marijuana for them, the caregiver may keep up to 12 plants for that patient.
Restrictions on the amount of marijuana caregivers may possess can be difficult to follow.
First, it is difficult to know how much marijuana a plant will yield. This can make it difficult to stay under the 2.5 ounces allowed per registered patient. And since the weight of marijuana fluctuates greatly when the plant is being dried it is difficult to know how much a plant has actually yielded.
Second, many caregivers use clones of plants when growing a new crop, by taking cuttings from an adult plant and re-rooting them. However, the legality of this process is unclear. Since Michigan law only allows 12 plants per patient, and since clones must be cut before a plant has fully matured, it can be difficult for growers to stay under the number of plants allowed by the law, especially if they are already maintaining 12 plants per patient at the time the clones are cut.
In order to avoid having more marijuana than the law allows, many growers have begun selling dried marijuana or plants to qualified patients via craigslist. It is important to understand that this practice is ILLEGAL. Caregivers are only allowed to sell marijuana to their registered patients, and any other sale could lead to fines and/or imprisonment.
Caregivers should re-evaluate their business practices in order to stay in compliance with the law. Their safety and the safety of their patients depend upon it. More information may be attained by visiting Michigan’s online resource for the MMMP or by calling NORML at (202) 483-5500.