ANTHONY BADOVINAC: Using Marijuana has not become legal

By Anthony Badovinac

Guest Columnist

The illegal use of controlled substances continues to plague our county. The use of meth and heroin continues to increase. I am told weekly by someone that the use of marijuana is now legal. That, of course, is simply not true and in fact, readers should know the recently enacted Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) did not make marijuana legal for everyone.

These are the relevant provisions:

Q. What is the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA)?

A. Effective Dec. 20, 2016, the MMFLA creates a comprehensive state licensing system that will control the growing, processing, transporting, testing and sale of medical marihuana throughout Michigan. The MMFLA does not amend the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

Q. Who oversees the MMFLA?

A. The MMFLA creates the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board within the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The MMLB will issue licenses for medical marihuana facilities.

The MMFLA requires an annual license for growers, processors, provisioning center, secure transporters and safety compliance facilities. Each one requires a separate license.

Q. When can a person apply for a license under the MMFLA?

A. Beginning Dec. 15, 2017, an applicant may apply for a license to be a Class A (500 plants), B (1,000 plants) or C (1,500 plants) grower; processor, provisioning center; secure transporter; or safety compliance center.

Q. What is the role of a municipality (i.e., township, city or village) under the MMFLA?

A. Municipalities will be able to decide if they want to allow growers, processors, secure transporters and safety compliance centers in their jurisdiction. A person cannot apply to the State of Michigan for a license unless a municipality has adopted an ordinance that authorizes that type of facility.

Q. What happens if a township, city or village chooses to allow any of these marihuana facilities within their jurisdictions?

A. Municipalities may charge an annual fee of up to $5,000 on licensed marhuana facilities and regulate marihuana facilities within their jurisdiction (i.e. zoning ordinances). However, the MMFLA prohibits municipalities from regulating the purity or pricing of marihuana, or interfering with statutory regulations for licensing facilities. A municipality is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act as to any information it receives in connection with a license application.

Q. What is a provisioning center?

A. A provisioning center purchases marihuana from a grower or processor and sells, supplies or provides it to registered patients. This may be done directly or through the patient's registered caregiver. A provisioning center is not allowed to be a secure transporter or safety compliance facility.

Q. What is a grower?

A. A grower cultivates, dries, trims or cures and packages marihuana for sale to a processor or provisioning center. Registered patients and caregivers who lawfully cultivate marihuana to the MMMA are not considered "growers" under the MMFLA. A grower is not allowed to be a secure transporter or safety compliance facility.

Q. What is a processor?

A. A processor purchases marihuana from a grower and extracts resin from the marijuana plant. A processor may also create marhuana-infused products for sale and transfer the final packaged products to provisioning centers. A processor is not allowed to be a secure transporter or safety compliance facility.

Q. What is a secure transporter?

A. A secure transporter stores and transports marijuana from one facility to another. A secure transporter is not allowed to be a provisioning center, grower, processor or safety compliance facility.

Q. What is a safety compliance facility?

A. A safety compliance facility receives marihuana from a marihuana facility or registered caregiver and tests it for contaminants and other substances. A safety compliance facility is not allowed to be a provisioning center, grower, processor or a secure transporter.

Q. When will a registered patient and/or caregiver interact with a provisioning center?

A. Registered qualifying patients and/or caregivers will be able to transfer or purchase marihuana from a provisioning center. The MMMA controls how much marihuana can be transferred or bought from provisioning centers.

Q. Will registered patients and/or caregivers be allowed to continue to grow their own marihuana under the MMMA?

A. The MMFLA does not disrupt the current patient-caregiver relationship. Registered patients and caregivers may still grow their own marijuana and caregivers may have up to five registered patients. The MMFLA does not get rid of the Section 8 defense under the MMMA.

Q. What requirements are in place for licensees?

A. The MMFLA requires the state to establish a "seed to sale" computer tracking system. The new system will compile data on all marihuana plants throughout the state and track them from grower to when they end up in the hands of a registered patient. The system will be able to provide this data in real time to law enforcement agencies.

Q. What is the role of law enforcement under the MMFLA?

A. A marihuana facility and all articles of property in that facility are subject to examination at any time by a local police agency or state police.

Having said all that, it is now a fact that more drugged driving accidents have caused more deaths nationwide than have drunken-driving deaths for the first time in our history. This, of course, continues to be great cause for concern. The licensing act did not make it legal for mom-and-pop type growing facilities, and in fact, huge amounts of money will be needed to fund these facilities. It is assumed that big business interests will be the main investors. I hope this helps everyone understand a little more about the current status of the law.

Anthony Badovinac is the Osceola County Prosecutor, the county's chief law enforcement officer.