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Proposed changes to medical marijuana rules worry some caregivers, dispensary owners

Posted at 6:21 PM, Mar 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-19 11:37:03-04

YPSILANTI, Mich. (WXYZ-TV) — Jake Abraham is the owner of Sticky Ypsi, a medical marijuana provisioning center or dispensary, in Ypsilanti.

He's worried proposed changes to Michigan's medical marijuana market could impact his business and his patients.

Right now, Abraham gets all of his product from caregivers -- personal growers allowed 72 plants for up to six patients. Abraham buys their excess product.

Thursday, the state’s Medical Marijuana Licensing Board will vote on a resolution from LARA- the state’s regulatory arm, that would require excess product first go to a licensed grower and processor to be state tested.

“I’ll have to overpay for my product and it will be about half the quality of what I’m getting now," Abraham told 7 Action News.

Abraham said he'd likely be paying double for product, based on quotes he's already received from licensed growers.

According to the LARA, new testing requirements aim to keep patients safe.

"It is recommended that medical marijuana patients purchase products from licensed facilities and validate that the products being purchased have been tested under the law and rules of the state. Using marijuana products that contain levels of mold and/or chemical residue that the rules define as being potentially unsafe could lead to negative health consequences, particularly for immunocompromised patients," a LARA spokesperson said via email.

7 Action News spoke to a caregiver, who asked we not show his face. If this new rule goes into effect he said, people like him will be pushed into the black market.

“It’s gonna up the value the product and make it cost way more money than it should because there’s gonna be three hands dipping in the pot.”

Michigan's caregiver market is around 44,000 strong right now. If a portion of that goes underground, patients like Carmen Tubbs fear their access to product could be impacted.

“The issue that we’ve kind of been running into in this state lately is just places closing down," she said.

Tubbs, who currently shops at Sticky Ypsi, said her previous provisioning center shut its doors.

“They need to extend the deadline for legal dispensaries to buy from caregivers for at least another year and then revisit the situation to see where the state’s at," the caregiver said.

If the resolution is agreed to, the proposed changes would take effect April 1.