Medical marijuana education sessions planned

(AP photo)

MARQUETTE — Dec. 15, the deadline for municipalities to allow medical marijuana activities in their jurisdictions under the new Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act, looms large as the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation move toward implementation of the law.

Negaunee Township, the only municipality in Marquette County to publicly consider putting an ordinance on the books regulating medical marijuana activity within its borders, will discuss the matter at its board meeting Thursday.

After months of research and two public forums, the Negaunee Township Planning Commission in September requested a joint meeting with the township board to explore the matter further.

“It is a convoluted situation,” Negaunee Township Planner Nick Leach said. “The planning commission meeting is postponed until the township board decides if and when they want to meet with the commission.”

Under the new set of laws, medical marijuana facilities would be subject to a licensing scheme similar to that of liquor licenses. In addition, no one can apply to the state for a license of any kind under MMFLA until Dec. 15 and only if the municipality has adopted an ordinance adopting that type of facility.

On Monday LARA and the BMMR announced the dates of a series of educational sessions designed to familiarize potential licensees with the application process and the statewide monitoring system.

Representatives from Franwell — the company chosen to implement Michigan’s statewide monitoring system for integrated marijuana tracking, inventory and verification under the Marihuana Tracking Act — will be present at each of the five sessions to demonstrate Franwell’s Metrc, the seed-to-sale tracking system, to potential licensees, according to a LARA press release.

Metrc is a cloud-hosted, real-time, online software reporting system that will be used by licensed Michigan medical marijuana businesses to manage and report supply chain activities as required by state rules. Metrc uses serialized tags attached to every plant — and labels attached to wholesale packages — to track medical marijuana inventory through different stages of growth, as well the drying and curing processes, the release states.

While applications will not be completed during the sessions, employees of LARA and the BMMR will be on hand during the in-person sessions to show attendees the license application process for growers, processors, secure transporters, provisioning centers and safety compliance facilities, the release states.

The events are designed, in part, to help attendees familiarize themselves with the process — and what will be required — when the applications become available on Dec. 15.

The educational sessions will take place in five locations throughout the state during the month of November:

– Nov. 8 at Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills;

– Nov. 9 at Saginaw Valley State University in University Center;

– Nov. 13 at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City;

– Nov. 14 at the Wings Conference Center in Kalamazoo; and

– Nov. 15 at the Kellogg Conference Center in East Lansing.

For those unable to travel, the Nov. 9 and Nov. 15 events will also be live-streamed on the BMMR website at www.michigan.gov/medicalmarihuana.

All events begin at 9 a.m. and end at noon. There is no cost to attend the medical marihuana educational sessions but — due to space constraints — potential licensees and their representatives must all register at www.metrc.com/michigan by 5 p.m. Nov. 1. Click “Sign up for Educational Sessions” and then choose the appropriate date.

“The LARA educational sessions are not board meetings and there will not be time set aside for public comment,” the release states, and attendance at the educational sessions will not affect a potential licensee’s application.

“All interested members of the public will be able to participate in future training opportunities whether they attend the educational sessions or not,” the release states.

The MMFLA, consisting of Public Acts 281, 282 and 283 of 2016 clarifies and adds to the state’s 2008 voter-approved Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, according to a Michigan Municipal League fact sheet. Other actions include legalizing marijuana-infused products for medicinal use; creating a “seed-to-sale” tracking system to ensure marijuana dispensed to patients has been tested for safety; and creating a medical marijuana excise fund in the state treasury that will allocate revenue from fees, fines and charges to local units of government and law enforcement.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.