'Gray area' and illegal sales of marijuana hurting dispensaries in Michigan

Posted at 5:06 AM, Feb 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-19 11:36:33-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Medical marijuana dispensaries say they’re losing money because of the so called "gray area" with marijuana in Michigan. Is it legal or illegal to gift marijuana with the sale of a product?

It’s legal to smoke marijuana in Michigan. However, if you don’t have a medical marijuana card, how do you get your hands on some pot?

Some residents are resorting to a so-called gray market and gifting marijuana with the sale of high priced t-shirts. In the end, though, it’s really hurting the medical marijuana dispensaries.

"It’s definitely in the gray area. I like to say it’s more in the 'green area,'" said the founder of CannaMich, who requested his name be anonymous.

The founder of Cannamich is making money online selling t-shirts starting at $50, then gifting marijuana with the product.

"Everything is legal as possible," he said.

Currently, marijuana regulators are coming up with rules and regulations when it comes to recreational and gifting pot. Until then, dispensary owners say they’re feeling the pinch.

"It is pretty upsetting," said Jerry Millen, co-owner of Greenhouse in Walled Lake. "We have about $75,000 in licensing fees annually."

LARA sent us a statement saying in part,

We are reviewing the provisions of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (Proposal 1) as we begin to work toward implementing the facility regulatory program.

Lawyers at the Cannabis Counsel in Detroit say, yes it is illegal to gift marijuana when purchasing an item.

"A gift up to 2.5 ounces may be provided from adult to adult without remuneration and it cannot be promoted or advertised," said Thomas Lavigne with the law firm of Cannabis Council.

Dispensaries say things need to be drawn out by regulators sooner rather than later.

"They need to stop the illegal delivers tomorrow, and it is possible," said Millen from Greenhouse. "There is so much danger involved in this that people don’t understand."

Until the rules and laws are eventually regulated, entrepreneurs like CannaMich will continue gifting marijuana.

"It’s not really hurting their business," the founder said. "If anything a medical marijuana patient coming into the dispensary and buys gifts for other patients or other people is potentially more business for them."

LARA says they’re confident they will meet the statutory deadline of Dec. 6 to have license applications available for prospective businesses.