State recommendation would bridge medical marijuana shortage

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Marijuana plant

Lansing — The state bureau overseeing the licensing of medical marijuana facilities will recommend exceptions to state rules to meet a supply shortage that’s developed in the emerging market.

The Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation will recommend the board take no disciplinary action against licensed provisioning centers, growers and processors that buy weed from registered primary caregivers.

Licensed growers have not produced enough product to supply the emerging regulated market, creating a shortage in the early days of the medical marijuana industry, according to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Allowing provisioning centers to buy from caregivers will supplement the system while the new product enters the regulated market through the licensing framework, said David Harns, a LARA spokesman. 

Best practices for provisioning centers and processors remains the purchase of marijuana through licensed growers, but supplementing that supply with product from primary caregivers “will assist licensed provisioning centers with meeting the needs of patients," the bureau said in a statement.

To allow for the temporary supply, the bureau will recommend the licensing board pass a resolution Dec. 7 to refrain from disciplining provisioning centers, growers and processors who obtain marijuana from a caregiver if they obtain signed patient consent and enter inventory and sales into the statewide monitoring system.

The allowance, if adopted Dec. 7, would allow provisioning centers to buy from caregivers through Dec. 31 and sell that product through January 31. However, any product sold between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31 must also be tested.

Growers and processors are able to purchase and sell products from caregivers through Feb. 28, 2019, ensuring a steady supply for patients and creating diversified strains within the market.

“There are growers who will be able to bring product to the market,” Harns said. “We just have to get to that point in time where their harvest will be ready.”

The potential for a similar shortage in the recreational marijuana industry will be assessed in the coming year, as the bureau works to set up a licensing framework for the adult use law passed in early November.

“We’ll definitely look at what we’ve learned from medical marijuana,” Harns said.

The allowances will depend on approvals from the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board, which is expected to meet Dec. 7.

A second December board meeting has been scheduled for Dec. 21.

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