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Michigan's marijuana industry could see regulatory changes in 2022

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2021 has been a “banner year” for Michigan’s marijuana industry.

The state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency projects when December’s sales numbers are tabulated, the industry (adult use and medical) will have generated nearly $1.8 billion dollars in 2021, compared with just under a billion dollars in 2020.

“Michigan’s marijuana industry grew substantially in 2021 and seems to be entering an era where the stability of supply and consumer prices appears to have been achieved,” says Andrew Brisbo, director of the Marijuana Regulatory Agency.

But some major changes may be coming in 2022.

Congress may take up legislation in the spring to give banks more access to the cannabis industry. The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2021 would prohibit a federal banking regulator from penalizing a depository institution for providing banking services to a legitimate cannabis-related business and proceeds from a transaction involving activities of a legitimate cannabis-related business are not considered proceeds from unlawful activity. The U.S. House approved the SAFE banking bill in 2021, but it remains stuck in the U.S. Senate.

Meanwhile, at the state level, there’s proposed legislation that would put greater regulations on medical marijuana caregivers. The bill package would limit caregivers to only growing up to 12 plants. The law currently allows caregivers to grow up to 72 plants. The proposal would also reduce the amount of harvested marijuana they may possess from 15 ounces to 5.

Stephen Linder is the executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association.

Linder says the state legislation is needed in part to put greater controls on the grey and black market, which he says is a drag on the licensed market.

“Most of the caregiver market is underground,” say Linder, “And that is not in the public interest to have this much product outside of the regulated system, not tested, not taxed.”

But caregiver supporters insist tightening limits on the number of plants they can grow will only hurt medical marijuana patients.

Some medical marijuana advocates see the legislation as favoring commercial cannabis businesses.

The legislation faces an uncertain future.

Rick Thompson is the executive director of the Michigan chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). Despite the slow legislative progress, he expects caregivers still face a fight.

“There’s been too much money put into crafting and promoting these bills for their advocates to just give up the ghost so quickly,” says Thompson.

Thompson expects 2022 will see less growth in Michigan’s marijuana industry with fewer new cities and towns likely to open their markets to new cannabis related businesses.

A look at Michigan’s marijuana industry in 2021:

MEDICAL

  • Jan – Nov (11 months) for medical 2021: $448,296,995.20
  • Last 3-months average for medical: $34,511,382.21
  • First 11 months plus next month projected for medical 2021: $482,808,377.41
  • 2020 medical (actual): $474,029,956.27


ADULT USE

  • Jan – Nov (11 months) for adult use 2021: $1,176,912,559.84
  • Last 3-months average for adult use: $124,676,379.46
  • First 11 months plus next month projected for adult use 2021: $1,301,588,939.30                 
  • 2020 adult use (actual): $510,658,439.04


(Source: Marijuana Regulatory Agency)

Copyright 2021 Michigan Radio

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting. During his two and a half decades in broadcasting, Steve has won numerous awards, including accolades from the Associated Press and Radio and Television News Directors Association. Away from the broadcast booth, Steve is an avid reader and movie fanatic. Q&A