The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) today issued the long-awaited, six-month emergency rules to carry out the state’s new medical marijuana regulations.

The rules, according to Andrew BRISBO, are to “allow growers, processors, secure transporters, provisioning centers and safety compliance facilities to operate under clear requirements.”

Brisbo told reporters during an afternoon briefing that the new rules don’t vary much from earlier “advisories” the agency had sent out addressing larger issues of concerns for growers and medical marijuana facility operates.

“Advisory bulletins were meant to target some big-picture issues,” said Brisbo. “There’s a lot more of the flushing out of details. I think the rules are consistent with the guidances we’ve been putting out.”

The 33 pages of rules cover everything from the application fees for a state operator ($6,000) to how plants are handled, how grow facilities are secured and how transport routes get reported to the state. The rules spell out on-site, state inspections, although Brisbo said at this point he didn’t have any specific staffing levels recommendations at this time.

The emergency rules also stipulate that billboards cannot be used to promote medical marijuana product specifically.

Brisbro was asked if that banned all billboard advertising, including phone apps aimed at helping people find medical marijuana resources. He said he believed the rules limited billboard advertising of “product.”

One of the more onerous issues tackled by LARA in instituting the new law is the capitalization (amount of cash, stocks, bonds, etc.) required for entry into the medical marijuana field. Brisbro said the rules spell out liquidity requirements that were addressed during public hearings. The final version doesn’t differ from the initial recommendations (See “State: Marijuana Growers Needs At Least $150K In Assets To Apply,” 11/17/17).

The rules specifically lay out the following capitalization levels:

  • Grower: Class A – (500 plants) $150,000
  • Grower: Class B – (1,000 plants) $300,000
  • Grower: Class C – (1,500 plants) $500,000
  • Processor: $300,000
  • Provisioning Center: $300,000
  • Secure Transporter: $200,000
  • Safety Compliance Facility: $200,000

What was new in the rules that wasn’t covered by earlier Advisory Bulletins was the inclusion of civil fines of $5,000 (individual) and $10,000 (licensee) for violation of the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act. Brisbo said the fines were “consistent with the statutory language” but the agency “did want them put into the rules.”

The six-month timeframe for the rules allows the agency to carry out the timeline spelled out in the MMFLA and allow the full rules promulgation process to continue. The rules can be extended for an additional six-month period if permanent rules aren’t in place.

Tim BECK, a marijuana activist who helped put the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act on the ballot, said while he hadn’t yet read the entire 33 page rule set, he was pleased with how LARA is handling the issue.

“I think they seem to be handling the matter in a very thorough and judicious way,” Beck told MIRS. They’re following the law as they are supposed to. I’m happy they’re running the show as opposed to the board itself. I’ve been skeptical of the board because none of them really had any background in the business itself.”