It seems like such a simple equation.
Michigan has 300,000 registered medical marijuana patients who need their medicine. But due to a marijuana supply shortage and an imbalance within the supply chain, patients are having difficulty accessing medical marijuana.
Currently, licensed provisioning centers are only permitted to get their product from growers. That means that the fewer than 60 licensed provisioning centers in Michigan are required to service all 300,000 of those patients.
To put it mildly, it’s not working. And it’s clear that caregivers are the solution to the medical marijuana shortage.
So What Is the Problem?
Well, there are many. Transitioning to legal recreational marijuana in Michigan has not been a cake walk. And it still has a lot to learn.
By January, it was clear that supplies were quickly dwindling. And the situation hasn’t gotten any better.
So in the middle of January, a highly respected and well known law firm in Southeast Michigan filed a state court complaint on behalf of a provisioning center seeking to remedy Michigan’s medical marijuana supply shortage.
In response to the lawsuit, the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board (MMLB) signed a resolution on January 16th that granted caregivers the right to provide their product directly to the state’s licensed dispensaries.
Since caregiver-grown product was not required to be tested, patients had to sign a waiver acknowledging they understood this. They did just that.
And with caregivers continuing to provide untested marijuana, patients who truly rely on this medicine have been able to access it.
But the resolution was merely a stopgap measure. It expired on March 31st. Since then, the state’s licensed caregivers have been required to provide any excess product to licensed growers or licensed processors, who will then have the product tested before transferring the product to a provisioning center.
All of this red tape has added needless delays for patients trying to access their medicine. In some cases, it’s even prevented them from it.
So the law firm has recently filed a subsequent lawsuit on behalf of its client – requesting it continue the status quo of the original resolution.
Why Caregivers Are the Solution to the Medical Marijuana Shortage
Like we said above, it’s pretty simple.
Right now, Michigan licenses marijuana growers to sell either 500 plants (Class A), 1,000 plants (Class B) or 1,500 plants (Class C). But as of March 18, Michigan had issued only three Class A licenses, one class B license and 13 Class C licenses.
The number of available medical marijuana plants for Michigan’s 300,000 patients is far from enough to keep up with current demand.
Plus, Michigan has only 11 licensed marijuana processors for packaging and labeling, four licensed marijuana testing facilities, and five licensed marijuana transporters.
Meanwhile, a caregiver may grow 72 plants to supply up to five patients, plus the caregiver him/herself if they are a patient as well. It’s no wonder that Michigan’s medical marijuana caregiver network has been effective in supplying patients with products for 11 years.
Yes. Eleven years.
Therefore, to supplement the dwindling supply, the law firm requested that Michigan allow its licensed medical marijuana caregiver network to provide excess caregiver products to state-licensed provisioning centers as they’ve been effectively doing for so long now.
The hope is that the Marijuana Regulatory Agency – which recently replaced the MMLB – has the wherewithal to recognize common sense.
Until there’s a measurable increase in the number of licensed growers, processors, transporters and provisioning centers – in tandem with more being done to expedite and streamline the medical marijuana licensing process and minimize barriers for patients – the caregiver network is THE solution.
From an economic and patients’ health standpoint, it’s the only way to go.
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