Poll echoes lobby group desire to change Michigan medical marijuana law


Faced with opposition to an effort to reduce the presence of local medical marijuana suppliers in Michigan’s cannabis industry, a lobby group has commissioned a poll that indicates broad support for the new legislation.

But some argue that the poll asked the wrong questions.

Michigan voters in 2008 passed a medical marijuana law that created “caregivers,” state-registered marijuana growers capable of providing cannabis to their state-registered patients with little money. surveillance.

The Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association (MCMA), a trade lobbying organization including some of the state’s largest trading companies in the marijuana industry, says voters in Michigan want to do away with the healthcare system as it exists currently.

After supporting a series of bills that would amend the medical marijuana law, the MCMA on Thursday published a poll of the 577 probable voters in 2022 who repeated their position.

“The investigation shows overwhelming support, both broad and deep, to regulate medical marijuana to the same standards as recreational marijuana,” a summary of the findings said. “We tested ten new regulations, both individually and together. Tested separately, each of the ten potential new regulations we explored gained broad support across almost every demographic.

“Tested together, we find that the package of new regulations wins better than 2-to-1 support.”

Supporters of the existing health care system are skeptical of the survey.

“The report draws conclusions based on digital data that they have chosen not to share,” said Rick Thompson, a caregiver and chapter director of the Michigan National Organization for Marijuana Law Reform ( NORML). “This is not the way reliable survey results are typically presented. The report’s selective publication of data exposes this as a public relations action, not a scientific study. “

The poll and report were produced by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, identified as a Democratic company, and Public Opinion Strategies, named in the summary as a Republican company.

MCMA representatives declined to disclose how much the professional organization paid for the poll.

The MCMA solicited another third-party analysis supporting its policy goals earlier this summer. The Anderson Economic Group, on behalf of the MCMA, released a report in June indicating that more than 2/3 of Michigan’s estimated $ 3.2 billion marijuana sales occurred outside the regulated market in 2020.

The source of more than $ 2 billion in black market sales is where the disagreement lies. The MCMA estimates that a significant portion of these sales are from caregivers.

“The law legalizing medical marijuana allows people it calls caregivers to grow up to 72 plants for themselves and up to 5 patients,” the Summary poll said. “Because 72 plants provide much more marijuana than can be consumed by a caregiver and their 5 patients, many caregivers sell their excess marijuana plants against the regulations in force. “

Thompson argues that the MCMA’s insinuation that caregivers are responsible for the huge black market is false.

“The MCMA would have you believe that there are only two types of commerce in Michigan: the regulated market and everything in between,” he said. “It’s much more complicated than that. Cannabis sales between caregivers and their patients are legally sanctioned, but the MCMA has chosen to bundle these legal sales with unregulated activity in order to get their point across.

“This should tell you everything you need to know about the integrity of this disinformation campaign.”

Rumors that the MCMA was pushing to change the medical marijuana law and the role of caregivers have been circulating for months, leading to boycotts against its members.

A set of laws that align with the MCMA’s subsidized voting points were released this week, the afternoon ahead of a planned caregiver protest urging lawmakers to maintain the current law.

Four lawmakers, including two Republicans, Rep. Jim Lilly of Park Township and Rep. TC Clements of Temperance; and two Democrats, Rep. Richard Steenland from Roseville and Rep. Ronnie Peterson from Ypsilanti, have announced their support for legislation called the Michigan Cannabis Safety Act.

In two statements released following the unveiling of all of the bills, one by politicians and the other by the MCMA, caregivers, as identified by applicable law, were qualified of “unlicensed marijuana growers”.

Marijuana for caregivers, which cannot legally be sold in the licensed market or to anyone other than their registered patients, is exempt from the rules that apply to commercial businesses. Caregivers are registered with the state, but not licensed or supervised by the state licensing agency and product tracking system; their product does not require testing and is also not subject to sales or excise taxes.

The proposed changes, which the MCMA says the vast majority of voters polled support, would reduce the number of patients a caregiver can provide with marijuana from five to one. This would reduce the total number of plants a caregiver can grow from 72 to 24, and the total amount of harvested marijuana on hand he can own from 15 ounces to 5 ounces.

The legislation would also require them to register their place of culture with the state to be shared with the police. The proposed bills would create a new type of license for a “specialty medical producer”. They would be allowed to grow up to five patients; however, their marijuana would have entered the state’s METRC tracking system and should be tested.

Several caregivers and patients who spoke to MLive at the pro-caregiver rally in Lansing on Thursday said the licensed market is for mass-produced, more expensive products created for profit, rather than their needs. personalized medical.

Amber Dunn is a chronic pain spine cancer survivor who attended the rally and has her own registered caregiver. Dunn said her caregiver provides discounted THC oils, flowers and other products at about a quarter of the price she would pay in a retail store. Without the cut-price marijuana, she said she could never afford it with her disability income. Caregivers are able to produce marijuana much cheaper than licensed businesses because they don’t have to buy a brick-and-mortar building, conduct safety tests on their marijuana, pay taxes sales or excise and application or license fees.

Charles Ream, the Ann Arbor-based director of the Safer Michigan Coalition, which supports caregivers, said the MCMA survey questions produced misleading answers.

“If you were to say, ‘Should caregivers pay all the costs of fully regulated cannabis so that the poorest people can no longer get their drugs? People were like ‘No, of course not,’ he said. “The reason we have caregivers is so that people without a lot of money can get cannabis medicines. Anything that raises the price kills a lot of patients. “

The number of caregivers and patients registered is down slightly. There were about 17,000 fewer caregivers and 6,000 fewer patients in July than in December 2019. These are drops of about 6.4% and 17%, respectively.

As of August, there were 249,870 registered medical marijuana patients and 30,227 caregivers.

More about MLive:

Caregivers protest to uphold medical marijuana law

Growing rights of caregivers are challenged by proposed laws

Caregivers and corporate cannabis at odds

Find out how marijuana became a $ 2 billion industry in Michigan

Pregnancy tests, VR glasses among marijuana research buys

Research grants will be announced in August

Derived from delta- * THC marijuana now restricted

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