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Marijuana, both medical and recreational, has enormous potential to improve lives, gives patients much-needed relief, sparks innovation, creates jobs and boosts Michigan’s economy.

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency issued emergency rules for Michigan’s adult-use (recreational) marijuana industry in early July, bringing businesses one step closer to participating in this new and exciting industry. 

However, more work needs to be done to ensure marijuana products are safe for human consumption. While the emergency rules are a step in the right direction, it’s necessary for Michigan to follow Good Manufacturing Practices. These practices ensure products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Good Manufacturing Practices are necessary for the marijuana industry because there have been too many headlines about products tainted with pesticides, mold and other chemicals that are harmful for humans and pose a significant health risk for patients.

Earlier this year in Michigan there was a series of highly publicized medical marijuana recalls because products were found tainted with chemical residue, E. coli, arsenic, cadmium and salmonella. Michigan is not alone: In April, a dispensary in Los Angeles was accused of selling marijuana contaminated with a fungicide used to treat golf turfs. Additionally, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently found lead in several brands of cartridges used for vaping. These incidents are unacceptable, putting the health of consumers and patients at risk.

In Michigan, we can and must do better when it comes to producing safe, high-quality marijuana products. Patients and consumers deserve access to safe products, which is why we need the highest possible safety standards for marijuana manufacturing.

As a Michigan marijuana company with deep Detroit roots, we believe we can learn from other industries in terms of best practices and standards, including the pharmaceutical, food and alcohol industries. We’re continuing to work with top industry experts and the Michigan Legislature to identify best practices from the food, pharmaceutical and alcohol industries to use them as a road map for keeping consumers and patients safe.

Michigan needs to be a leader, not a laggard, when it comes to safety standards for all marijuana products. The 2018 Michigan recreational marijuana ballot initiative was named “Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol,” and we need to make sure these aren’t just words. We need to put this into practice by examining the best practices to ensure safety and protect patients and consumers from dangerous chemicals and tainted product.

As this new industry begins to develop, it’s disappointing to see divisions between caregivers and marijuana companies regarding the issue of safety. In recent months, some have tried to portray the push for higher standards as somehow an attack on caregivers or as anti-competitive. We believe caregivers are pioneers and innovators in this industry, and they have a critical role to play in Michigan’s incipient medical marijuana industry.

Working together shoulder to shoulder — manufacturers, testing facilities, dispensaries, transporters, caregivers, patients and consumers — can make sure Michigan is a leader in safe marijuana manufacturing. 

Michael Elias is CEO of Michigan Pure Med.

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