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Marijuana Regulatory Agency Holds Public Hearing On Proposed Administrative Rule Changes

Cannabis Law Blog

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Marijuana Regulatory Agency Holds Public Hearing On Proposed Administrative Rule Changes

On Monday, September 27, 2021, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (“MRA”) held a public hearing to receive comments on a series of proposed changes to the administrative rules that govern medical and adult-use marijuana businesses. We previously covered an overview of the proposed changes in our five-part blog series in the days leading up to public hearing. The proposed rules concern significant changes to the following rule sets: licenses, licensees, operations, testing, infused products, sale or transfer, employees, hearings, disciplinary proceedings, and declaratory rulings.

The public hearing on the proposed rule changes offered significantly less controversy than previous public hearings that have been held by the MRA and its predecessor agencies. The public hearing was notable for being the first in-person public hearing that the MRA has held since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there were relatively few attendees in the audience for the hearing. In contrast, previous public hearings of the MRA have seen near-capacity attendance in sizable auditoriums. In an effort to ensure greater public access to the public hearing, the MRA did livestream the public hearing on the internet, but only attendees who appeared in person were permitted to make public comment at the hearing.

Only a handful of the attendees present offered public comment during the hearing. Those comments were limited to a few key topics. Several attendees voiced concerns that the MRA’s practice of issuing bulletins to implement regulatory changes violates the administrative procedures act. Other attendees focused their comments on the newly proposed Class A Microbusiness. Some voiced concerns about the legality of some of the proposed authorizations related to this license, which, as currently proposed, would authorize a Class A Microbusiness to purchase mature marijuana plants from patients, caregivers, and adults age 21 and up. Attendees voiced comments that this proposed conduct would be a violation of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act and the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act. Other attendees urged the MRA to authorize the Class A Microbusiness to conduct its own processing—as opposed to the current proposal which would allow Class A Microbusinesses to purchase marijuana-infused products from licensed processors.

Attendees also offered comments urging the MRA to more specifically define some terms in the administrative rules that have resulted in ambiguity and confusion for the industry, such as the terms “indirect interest,” “gross profit,” and “net profit.” Lastly, a number of comments applauded the MRA’s decision to codify and permit contactless and limited contact transactions. These types of transactions became a necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as curbside delivery. Comments on this topic also encouraged the MRA to specifically authorize the use of drive through transactions within this proposed rule due to the fact that drive through transactions had previously been prohibited.

In addition to the comments received during the public hearing, the MRA also received written comments from interested stakeholders on the proposed rule sets. The MRA is now tasked with reviewing the public comments and submitting a final draft of the proposed rule sets to the Michigan Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (“JCAR”) for further discussion. We will continue to keep you updated on these proposed rules as they progress through the rulemaking process.