Comp and Cannabis: MI Sees an Update in its ‘Marihuana’ Licensing Process


By Dara Barney

This is the next article in's “Comp and Cannabis” series, as Editor Dara Barney explores medical marijuana legislation state-by-state, and what it means regarding workers' compensation.


Lansing, MI ( – As local law enforcement “beefs up” with excess state funds from medical marijuana patient/caregiver costs, dispensaries/pot businesses prepare to go through the anticipated licensing process to grow/open up shop in certain communities, writes Jonathan Oosting of The Detroit News. 

“…Law enforcement agencies in 54 of Michigan’s 83 counties received a combined $1.83 million in medical marijuana enforcement grants from the state in 2017, according to a new legislative report. The grants financed spending on overtime pay, grow house raids, vehicles, surveillance equipment, firearms, Tasers, tactical gear and more,” according to the article.

“…Law enforcement officials say the funding is critical to enforcing the state’s 2008 medical marijuana law, which allows patients and caregivers to grow a limited number of plants but did not anticipate the glut of marijuana businesses that popped up. The state will begin licensing and regulating those operations this year.” 

Only about 33 communities out of the 2,500 municipalities (1 percent) had approved medical marijuana businesses by December 2017. But, medical marijuana is “an illegal narcotic” anywhere else, including raids and closures of Kent/Grand Traverse county dispensaries, according to the article.

“Lt. Eric J. Sanborn of the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, in his report to state officials, said increased public education will be a key as medical marijuana businesses open their doors.

The new law will require ‘more frequent compliance checks in regards to growers, processors, transporters and dispensaries,’ he wrote.” 

Up almost 25 percent from 2016, 269,553 medical marijuana patients were registered in the state last year. “…Nearly 80 percent of the patients were prescribed marijuana to treat severe and chronic pain, according to state records. Nearly 19 percent registered to treat several and persistent muscle issues,” per the article.

David Harns, spokesperson for Michigan’s Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation, stressed safety as a priority for 2018.

Spelling Lesson: Readers might be wondering about the “h” in marihuana. “…The spelling of marihuana has a long history in the United States. Michigan’s history primarily starts from the spelling that was chosen for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Michigan adopted its statutory definition of marihuana in the Public Health Code, utilizing the then current federal spelling,” according to the Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Website. Legislative action would be needed in order to change the spelling.

“The nascent medical marihuana industry in Michigan is poised to grow in 2018 as the regulatory framework passed by the legislature in 2016 is implemented, ensuring safe access for the state’s 265,000 medical marihuana cardholders. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) looks forward to enhancing patient protections and continuing to make regulations more efficient for business customers,” he said.

Highlighting the movement to facility and employee licensing, LARA provided guidance on its website, requiring anyone applying for a grower/processor license to have 2 years of caregiver experience or something similar.

“…However, a licensed grower or processor — or their employee — must not be registered as a caregiver. LARA intends to require that, upon licensure, any caregivers affiliated or employed by a grower or processor must submit the form to cancel caregiver status within 5 business days. New employees have five business days to submit the caregiver cancellation form,” per the release.

But what does all of this mean for injured workers? Referencing statute, Harns said employers aren’t responsible to reimburse for medical marijuana treatment due to section 418.315a. Although all medical benefits are supposed to be covered, 315a provides an exception to that requirement. 

According to, potential medical marijuana patients need to be diagnosed with one or more conditions including (but not limited to): Crohn’s disease, cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDs, hepatitis C, PTSD, severe chronic pain or nausea, seizures, or wasting syndrome.


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