Medical marijuana application easier for some owners under bill headed to governor

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
This is 1/8th of an ounce of Blue Zkittles on the scale at Far West Holistic Center. Employees called, "Bud Tenders," assist medical marijuana patients as they purchase products, Wednesday afternoon, November 7, 2018.

Lansing — Legislation that would ease the application process for some medical marijuana businesses seeking Michigan operating licenses is headed to the governor’s desk after receiving approvals from the House Thursday.

The bills, which expand on abandoned House legislation, would exempt business owners with less than a 10 percent interest from the more rigorous financial background checks required of owners with greater shares.

The identities of every business owner would still be made known to the state, but those with less than a 10 percent interest would not need to go through more than a preliminary background check.

Publicly held companies would not need to name owners with less than 5 percent interest, according to the legislation.

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Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof of Grand Haven has said his bills are similar to other banking operations, and expand on legislation introduced by Rep. Klint Kesto of Commerce Township earlier in the lame-duck session.

Kesto’s bill would have exempted from disclosure on applications owners with a less than 5 percent interest.

The legislation is likely to help large and publicly owned companies and the state that would otherwise need to disclose then vet the backgrounds of thousands of owners.

The legislation stands to benefit companies such as New York City-based Acreage Holdings, which acquired Michigan-based medical marijuana business Blue Tire Holdings LLC this year.

The publicly traded company, whose board includes former U.S. House Speaker John Beohner of Ohio, told The Detroit News the existing law presented a challenge, but the company remained focused on its plan to acquire and develop properties for eventual clinic use.

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