There is no 1 year state moratorium

There is a myth going around that there is a one-year, state moratorium on new MMJ businesses. This is incorrect.

It is true that the HB1284 summary contained such a statement, but the summary is from a prior version of the draft regulation and is a summary intended to give voting legislatures a summary of the bill. However, the bill itself, which is the actual regulation, does not contain any state moratorium language.

Accordingly, any state resident can apply to the state once local approval of their proposed MMJ business is obtained. Remember, the MMJ business must be locally approved for both cultivation and retail sale of MMJ. This usually requires approval of two separate locations. Once local approval is obtained, you may apply to the state for the Medical Marijuana Center/Optional Cultivation license(s) or Infused product manufacturers license. Be reminded that you may not engage in cultivation or sale of MMJ until both state and local approval are received.

New Regulations

As many of you know, the state legislature has given us two new MMJ regulations, HB 1284 and SB 109. HB 1284 regulates MMJ businesses and SB 109 regulates MMJ doctors and eliminates and financial relationships between MMJ businesses and doctors. Both bills are aimed at making MMJ businesses more legitimate. As with any regulation, there are pros and cons to each bill.

Pros for HB1284:

HB 1284 creates legal protection for all participants in the MMJ business. Growers, trimmers, retail employees, owners, managers, etc., all are specifically protected from criminal prosecution by virtue of being employed or ownership of a MMJ business. The MMJ business must cultivate and sell its own medicine and cannot contract out such services. The upside is that MMJ businesses will have greater control over product quality, availability and cost of the medicine. The MMJ business can work with any licensed patient and a licensed patient can patronize any MMJ business without requiring primary caregiver assignment. This provides tremendous choice and flexibility for the patients and the MMJ businesses.

Cons for HB1284:

It will be difficult to comply with all of the logistical and financial requirements of running a MMJ business. The cost of the licenses, application fees and other costs are substantial and are likely to be passed on to the patients. No person with a felony drug conviction can own a MMJ business and out-of-state residents similarly are prohibited from ownership. Finally, the cost of running such a business typically requires both an industrial location to cultivate and a retail location to provide medicine to the patients. The costs of running such a business is likely to prevent smaller businesses from thriving.

Pros for SB 109:

The MMJ program has widely been criticized for catering to recreational drug users and the financial relationships between doctors and dispensaries has created widespread public opinion that the program has tremendous fraud. By cracking down on the financial relationships between doctors and MMJ businesses, the public perception of fraud may be replaced by community trust.

Cons for SB 109:

The requirement of a complete physical examination and an ongoing relationship between the MMJ patient and recommending doctor is likely to be costly. Many MMJ patients have few financial resources and may be unable to participate in the program. This is especially true since no health insurance is available to cover the cost of the medicine. The costs may force patients to acquire medicine from the “black market” and be exposed to possible criminal prosecution.

Conclusion:
HB 1284 and SB 109 usher in a new period of legitimization for the MMJ industry. The legislature formally recognized that patients must be able to acquire medicine from professional businesses. The end result should be greater acceptance of MMJ and the businesses that provide medicine to legitimate patients. However, regulation has a cost that is likely to be passed on to the patients. In response, patients should organize and patronize the businesses aimed at providing high quality medicine at affordable prices.