Why Michigan’s caregiver fight matters

By Alex Halperin
Oct 11, 2021

There’s an ambient tension in cannabis world between folks who make money the old way and those who make it the new way. But the fight over a Michigan bill that would overhaul the state’s caregiver system has gotten especially heated.
Grown In

Michigan’s caregiver laws, enacted in 2008, allows caregivers to grow 72 plants, 12 each for five patients and themselves. Enforced (or not) by municipalities, the law supports a community of tens of thousands of caregivers. Their product doesn’t go through the testing process required of commercial flower.

  • The new legislation, favored by the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers’ Association, would reduce the number of patients caregivers can serve from five to one, while requiring their product to be tested and tracked.
  • One of the bills Republican sponsors in the house said, “I’m sure many [caregivers] are not criminals, but I can tell ya, there’s a ton of ‘em that are criminals and they are all over my county.”
  • Caregivers groups say its not their fault existing laws aren’t enforced and see the legislation as motivated by companies seeking to increase market share.

Travis Copenhaver, a partner in law firm Vicente Sederberg’s Michigan office, told WeedWeek many caregivers have been left of out of the commercialization of cannabis and this represents a potential “death knell” for their way of life.

  • Copenhaver, who has clients on both sides of the issue, said he doesn’t think legislation in its current form is likely to pass.

Separately, why is so much Canadian weed getting smuggled into Michigan? (Some of the smugglers use submarines.)

Bottom line: Similar fights are happening in many states. The pie is getting bigger, but not everyone gets to eat.