There are many dynamics and angles to the legal status of industrial hemp, hemp oil, and marijuana going on in Michigan presently. Michigan is one of many states that currently finds itself teetering back and forth about how to define and enforce hemp oil lawfully and also whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana altogether. If you live in Michigan, we ask you to voice your thoughts and opinions about the value hemp oil provides with your local representatives.
In May, Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) issued an advisory that stated, “Cannabidiol comes from the marihuana plant.” And, “Based on the statutory definitions related to “marihuana”…any extracts of marihuana or extracts of the marihuana plant will continue to be treated as marihuana.”
Under Michigan’s LARA department’s classification—which cites the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act of 2008—the possession, sale, and use of marijuana—which somehow includes cannabidiols—must be done in compliance with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association (MMMA) and Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) that was established in 2016.
In response to this advisory, representatives of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable—a consortium of dozens of hemp companies—and their legal counsel met with leading officials of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and leaders of both parties in the Michigan legislature to discuss LARA’s advisory. Many positives about the clarification of hemp oil enforcement came from this recent meeting, including:
• There is a strong consensus among the political leadership that the Michigan legislature should pass a bill this year (likely after the election in November) that would clarify that hemp-derived CBD is legal for retail sale.
• Agency officials at LARA and MDARD support the development of separate regulatory schemes for hemp-derived CBD and medical marijuana.
• For the present time, LARA has advised that they do not exercise jurisdiction over hemp sold outside of marijuana dispensaries. LARA will not be coming to grocery and natural foods stores to inspect or seize CBD products. LARA can’t control what local or state police will do, but they promised to be helpful in clarifying issues if they arise.
Since LARA issued their cannabidiol advisory, it’s been noted by Michigan news outlets that the regulations will likely be challenged before an administrative law judge.
Michigan’s medical marijuana law, which includes hemp oil, has been in place since 2008. When asked why Michigan’s LARA department decided to release their advisory bulletin in May, Michigan Cannabis Legal Group attorney Travis Copenhaver said, “As an advocate, this interpretation has not been the stance of Michigan, but the laws that they are interpreting have been on the books since 2008. You can see how that argument has always been there. But in Michigan, CBD oil has not really been regulated. There was a lot of people importing, selling it, making it. There are grocery stores I shop at right now that have CBD oil on the shelves. That doesn’t mean it was ever technically legal unfortunately.”
And here’s where the marijuana and hemp oil story in Michigan thickens.
In April, the Michigan State Board of Canvassers ruled that the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol received enough signatures on a petition to qualify the legalization of recreational marijuana on a ballot for the November 6 mid-term elections. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol received more than 277,000 signatures in the state-mandated 180-day petition window.
With this state-wide ballot initiative for the legalization of recreational marijuana nearly set for inclusion in November’s elections, Michigan residents would have no issues purchasing, possessing, or using hemp oil/CBD with enough passing votes. A recent survey concluded 61 percent of Michigan voters favor the legalization of recreational marijuana and election experts from the University of Michigan believe the legalization ballot would pass favorably.
Interestingly enough, there is speculation that Michigan lawmakers, who currently hold a Republican majority, may move on passing the recreational marijuana legislation prior to the November elections in an attempt to suppress voter turnout out of concern of losing Republican seats and seeing the House of Representatives and/or Senate flipping to the Democrats.
If you live in Michigan or another state where hemp oil is being debated for legality we strongly urge you to contact your local representative. For representative contact information in your region visit the resource section on NationalHempAssociation.or