A handful of regulatory changes for Michigan’s medical marijuana patients could impact the size of the market for cannabis businesses.
The new rules – scheduled to take effect Jan. 15 – lower the cost of a two-year registration from $100 to $60 for many patients, which might help boost participation in the state’s MMJ program.
But the change has spurred controversy because it also eliminates a reduced rate for low-income patients, who will see their fees jump from $25 to $60, according to Mlive.com.
These individuals represent roughly 12% of the patient base, according to the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. That accounts for about 11,000 patients who either received their MMJ cards or renewed them in the state’s 2014 fiscal year.
Dispensaries in some areas of Michigan therefore could see a drop in customers if low-income patients decide to abandon the MMJ program all together in favor of the black market, though the overall lowering of fees for the rest of the patient base could offset that.
In 2014, the state approved more than 90,000 patient applications for new MMJ cards or renewals.
Michigan is one of several MMJ states that has no formal statewide set of regulations for the industry, which means dispensaries are technically illegal. That may change this year, as one lawmaker who couldn’t get legislation passed in 2014 has promised to reintroduce his measure in the coming legislative session.