New medical marijuana rules could limit variety


PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — New state guidelines meant to better regulate the quality of medical marijuana mean dispensaries and provisioning centers can no longer buy cannabis products directly from caregivers.

Caregivers are people 21 or older who the state has approved to grow medical marijuana and help patients. Under the rules rolled out by the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency Thursday, only licensed marijuana growers and processors can sell products to dispensaries now.

One West Michigan marijuana business told 24 Hour News 8 that since many licensed facilities are in their very early stages, some specialty products like oils to treat seizures could become harder to find.

“Up until recently, we were purchasing mainly from caregivers,” said Steve Bliss of Lake Effect, a provisioning center in Portage.

Buying from caregivers allowed Lake Effect to diversify inventory, including marijuana-infused peanut butter to patches that go on your skin.

“Obviously, there are a number of caregivers in the state and with that sheer number of people, there’s definitely going to be a lot more variety of product,” Bliss said.

Lake Effect’s attorney Devin Loker calls caregivers the “foundation of cannabis in Michigan,” noting that some started growing and processing medical marijuana years ago when the state program started in 2009.

“Some of these people have found a certain butter recipe or a capsule ratio that works very well for somebody’s specific treatment and those are some of those niche products that are at risk,” Loker said.

Bliss said safety and quality has always been a focus. Even before the changes by the state, Lake Effect tested all caregiver products for mildew and mold and verified the level of THC, the chemical that gives marijuana its psychoactive effects.

Still, Bliss supports the new state mandates, saying it will benefit the medical and recreational pot industries.

“Without a doubt, a regulated market is going to help all the patients in Michigan,” Bliss said.

He said his company may have to pay more for licensed products but will no longer pay for testing out of pocket.

Medical marijuana shops can still sell caregiver products they already have in stock as long as the customer is aware and signs a waiver. Lake Effect says it saw the changes coming, so it stocked up on some specialty products that may be hard to find.

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