Medical marijuana discussed


Andy Ridolphi

Michigan is second to only one other state for medical marijuana: California. New York has about 42,000 patients; Michigan, that is 10 million fewer in population, has 300,000. Medical marijuana is estimated to be a $5 billion industry in Michigan by 2020.

Shelly Edgerton, director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), spent 27 years as a state legislature. Edgerton spoke Wednesday evening to a mix of community members and students about the ever evolving industry of medical marijuana and the different positions LARA licenses.

When Michigan passed the medical marijuana bill in 2008, they did a patient and caregiver model rather than the regulatory system, she said. The regulatory system sets a standard for all of the medicinal marijuana must meet. This includes testing and what Edgerton called “Seed to Sale tracking,” done by a company in Florida, Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting and Compliances.

“No state has a perfect model to follow,” Edgerton said.

The five different kinds of licensing they approve after an applicant goes through background tests and other vetting processes are; grower, processor, secure transport, provisioning center and safety compliance facility licenses. They all differ in price, product and what you are authorized to do with the plant.

The industry is constantly evolving with new research and methods. Edgerton said people are always coming up with new and creative ways to do certain aspects of the process better.

“This industry goes a million miles an hour.” She said, “We are just trying to keep up.”

The original bill outlawing marijuana was spelt with an “H” instead of a “J.” Edgerton said. This is why legislature still spells it “marihuana” instead of the correct spelling, “marijuana.” While Edgerton said cannabis is the proper name, it is all the same, she added.