Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – July 12, 2024

  1. Proposed Bipartisan Legislation Would Streamline Michigan Cannabis Market Regulatory Oversight

Recently introduced Michigan House Bills 5884-85 would merge the regulations for recreational and medical marijuana into a single regulatory framework. For example, the legislation would require only one license for activities such as growing, processing, transporting, or selling cannabis.

Why it Matters: The legislation seeks to streamline and simplify the regulatory process, lower costs of compliance for businesses, and improve efficiency for the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency.


  1. Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency Set to Ban MCT Oil

In a recent technical bulletin from the CRA, effective October 1, 2024, “MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil will be added as a target analyte for marijuana vape cartridges as part of the Sampling and Testing Technical Guidance for Marijuana Products.”

Why it Matters: MCT oil is commonly used in inhalable cannabis products, such as vapes, and may pose dangers to respiratory health when inhaled. Businesses will need to adhere to the new testing parameters and begin to eliminate MCT oil from their products before October 1, 2024, if not sooner in a proactive manner.


  1. Client Alert: PCORI Fees Due by July 31, 2024!

In Notice 2023-70, the Internal Revenue Service set forth the PCORI amount imposed on insured and self-funded health plans for policy and plan years that end on or after October 1, 2023, and before October 1, 2024.

Why it Matters: Notice 2023-70 sets the adjusted applicable dollar amount used to calculate the fee at $3.22. Specifically, this fee is imposed per average number of covered lives for plan years that end on or after October 1, 2023, and before October 1, 2024. For self-funded plans, the average number of covered lives is calculated by one of three methods: (1) the actual count method; (2) the snapshot method; or (3) the Form 5500 method. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.


  1. A Health Professional’s Guide to Navigating the Disciplinary Process: What to Expect if You Are Facing a Professional Licensing Investigation or Administrative Complaint

Health professionals are committed to caring for patients with expertise, compassion, and integrity. However, in the heavily regulated healthcare field, those professionals can sometimes find themselves navigating not just the medical challenges of their patients but licensing issues of their own as well. Licensing issues can arise unexpectedly, and, when they do, they can cause tremendous stress and uncertainty.

Why it Matters: As an attorney with years of experience handling professional licensing matters for health professionals, Robert J. Andretz has witnessed firsthand how professional licensing investigations and Administrative Complaints can disrupt health professionals’ careers and their ability to provide patient care. He will explore how to navigate the disciplinary process in Michigan so that you can know what to expect if you are ever faced with a threat to your license. Learn more.


  1. Fraser Trebilcock Shareholder Sean P. Gallagher Recognized as a ‘Michigan Go To Lawyer’ for Cannabis Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly

Fraser Trebilcock Shareholder Sean P. Gallagher has been recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a ‘Michigan Go To Lawyer’ in 2024 for cannabis law. “I am honored to have been recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a ‘Michigan Go To Lawyer’ for cannabis law,” said Sean.

Why it Matters: Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s program honors leading lawyers in a particular field of law as nominated by their peers. Michigan’s Go To Lawyers identifies and recognizes the top lawyers across the state in a given practice area. Read more.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Professional Licensing | Robert Andretz

CBD Likely to Receive Stricter Regulatory Scrutiny in Michigan Following Governor’s Executive Order

Significant changes in Michigan’s cannabis regulatory framework go into effect on April 13, 2022, following Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order No. 2022-1.

Pursuant to the Executive Order, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency, which oversees marijuana growing, processing, and sales, will become the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (the “Agency”).

And the authorities, powers, duties, functions, and responsibilities of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to license and regulate processor-handlers under the Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act are being transferred to the Agency to be administered by the Agency. While the Agency will begin overseeing the processing, distribution and selling of hemp products, such as CBD, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will continue to oversee hemp cultivation.

An article in Crain’s Detroit Business which discusses the changes wrought by the Executive Order, also speculates about the possibility of more stringent regulations on CBD products. Andrew Brisbo, executive director of the Michigan Regulatory Agency, is quoted as saying “nothing will change” in the short term, and that “changes that will potentially come will be through a legislative process.”

Brisbo suggests that changes will focus on CBD products meant for human consumption, and that such products will “likely…be put through some kind of testing regime.”

We will continue to monitor these developments and keep you informed about other changes impacting Michigan’s cannabis industry. If you have any questions, please contact Paul Mallon or your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

mallon-paulPaul C. Mallon, Jr.  is Shareholder and Chair of Fraser Trebilcock’s cannabis law practice. You can reach him at or (313) 965-9043.

Michigan Law Imposes New Product Liability Insurance Requirements on Legal Cannabis Licensees

At the end of 2021, the Michigan legislature passed and Governor Whitmer signed into law a new cannabis liability insurance law that mandates proof of product liability insurance coverage for licensed cannabis businesses and new applicants. The new rules take effect March 30, 2022.

Michigan Senate Bill 461 (Public Act 160 of 2021) requires every licensee or applicant to file with the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Authority (MRA): “[P]roof of financial responsibility for liability for bodily injury to lawful users resulting from the manufacture, distribution, transportation, or sale of adulterated marihuana or adulterated marihuana-infused product in an amount not less than $100,000.00 for each license.”

The statute defines “adulterated marihuana” as “a product sold as marihuana that contains any unintended substance or chemical or biological matter other than marihuana that causes adverse reaction after ingestion or consumption.”

Additional requirements include:

  • The insurance policy is issued by a licensed insurance company or licensed captive insurance company in Michigan.
  • The insurance policy does not include a provision relieving an insurer from liability for payment of any claim for which the insured may be held liable under the act.
  • Covers bodily injuries to a qualifying patient, including injuries that are caused by the intentional conduct of the licensee (but not if the licensee acted with the intent to harm).

In addition, a licensee must file an “attestation of compliance” with the requirements of the statute with the MRA, on a form approved by the MRA, which is signed by the officer of the licensed insurance company or licensed captive insurance company that issues the policy.

To the extent a licensee fails to maintain proof of financial responsibility as required under statute, the MRA will immediately suspend the licensee’s license until such proof is provided. A licensee also cannot cancel required liability insurance unless the licensee gives the MRA 30 days’ prior written notice and procures new proof of financial responsibility and delivers that proof to the MRA within 30 days after giving notice.

Given that this law takes effect on March 30, 2022, it is important for existing licensees and applicants to move fast in order to meet its requirements. For questions or assistance, please contact Paul Mallon or your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

mallon-paulPaul C. Mallon, Jr.  is Shareholder and Chair of Fraser Trebilcock’s cannabis law practice. You can reach him at or (313) 965-9043. 

January Update: Legal, Legislative and Regulatory Developments Impacting the Michigan Cannabis Industry

Despite some bumps in the road—which are to be expected for any nascent industry—the year 2021 was a remarkable and record-breaking one for the legal cannabis industry in Michigan. As we gear up for what’s ahead in 2022, here are a few recent, noteworthy developments that those competing in the industry should be aware of.

Governor Signs Legislation Easing Financial Reporting Requirements for Medical Marijuana Growers

Medical marijuana growers in Michigan previously were required to submit financial statements to the Michigan Regulatory Agency (“MRA”) and the municipality in which they operate every state fiscal year. That requirement was eased with Governor Whitmer’s signing of Michigan House Bill 4921, which amends the Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Act to allow medical marijuana growers to submit financial statements every three years. A copy of the bill, which became effective as of December 7, 2021, can be viewed here.

The MRA issued a bulletin on January 3, 2022, explaining that, based on the legislation, the MRA will revise the AFS report forms and combine the AFS requirements for medical and adult-use licensees into a consolidated report.

The MRA also explained that in the interim, the requirements for annual financial statements are as follows:

  • An annual financial statement will not be required for fiscal year 2022, unless a licensee is required to file a fiscal year 2022 report as a condition of a final order.
  • Licensees must file an annual financial statement for fiscal year 2020 and fiscal year 2021.

Most Recent Sales Numbers Show that Industry is Strong

The MRA’s most recent financial numbers for Michigan’s adult-use marijuana market show strong sales in November of 2021 (the most recent data available from the MRA at the time this was published). Combined medical and recreational sales were approximately $153 million in November. In addition, a recent report by the Marijuana Policy Project estimates that Michigan will collect nearly $350 million in taxes related to recreational marijuana sales in 2021, which includes $80 million in sales tax and $270 million in excise tax.

Massive Marijuana Recall Cut in Half, MRA Asks Judge to Reconsider

In mid-November, the MRA issued a massive recall affecting more than $200 million in marijuana products tested by Viridis Laboratories and Viridis North over a three-month period. Viridis filed a lawsuit, and the Michigan Court of Claims, on December 3, partially granted Viridis’ request for a preliminary injunction that halted the recall for Viridis North but not Viridis Laboratories.

On December 15, the MRA requested that the judge reconsider his decision that limited the scope of the recall to just Viridis Laboratories. The MRA asserted that it had gathered more testing data since the judge’s initial decision and found 26 percent of Viridis North recalled and retested source packages failed microbial retesting for total yeast and mold.

On December 20, 2021, the Court of Claims denied the MRA’s motion for reconsideration.

We will continue to keep you apprised of these and other important developments in the Michigan legal cannabis industry. If you have any questions, please contact Paul Mallon or your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

mallon-paulPaul C. Mallon, Jr.  is Shareholder and Chair of Fraser Trebilcock’s cannabis law practice. You can reach him at or (313) 965-9043. 

Federal Cannabis SAFE Banking Act Bill Gains Steam with Backing from Michigan Financial Institutions and Government

In September 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019 (“Safe Act”), which would prohibit regulators from terminating or limiting either deposit or share insurance of a financial institution for doing business with a cannabis company. It would also prohibit regulators from barring such institutions from offering financial services to cannabis companies and stop regulators from encouraging financial institutions to not do business with those companies.

In March 2021, revised versions of the bill were introduced in the U.S. House and Senate, and the House version passed in April with significant bipartisan support (a vote of 321-101).

Currently, cannabis businesses, including those in states such as Michigan where selling cannabis is legal, have extremely limited access to banking services. Many banks are concerned with violating federal anti-money laundering and other laws by engaging in transactions with the proceeds of federally illegal marijuana operations.

The SAFE Act is meant to enable financial institutions and “cannabis-related legitimate businesses” to do business without running afoul of federal law. A cannabis-related legitimate business is defined by the SAFE Act as a manufacturer, producer, person or company that participates in a business or organized activity handling cannabis or cannabis products pursuant to a state’s law legalizing cannabis-related business or activities.

The Community Bankers of Michigan and Michigan Credit Union League both support passage of the SAFE Act. The bill has also received support from Michigan politicians. In April, Governor Whitmer joined 20 other governors in urging Congress to pass the legislation.

In a statement, Governor Whitmer said: “Michiganders voted overwhelmingly to legalize the use of recreational marijuana in 2018, and we must respect the will of the voters. Although legalization continues rolling on nationwide, we still have federal laws on the books that prohibit financial institutions from working with marijuana businesses legally under state law. To be blunt, legalization is great for the economy: it creates jobs and boosts tax revenue that can go towards our schools, communities, and first responders. This legislation ensures that Michigan’s marijuana businesses can grow and access the same resources that all legal businesses can.”

The fate of the SAFE Act resides in the closely divided U.S. Senate, where its passage is uncertain. One of the concerns expressed by Mike Tierney, president and CEO of the Community Bankers of Michigan, is that instead of passing the SAFE Act, the Democrat-controlled Senate will push for full legalization of cannabis instead of the more narrowly tailored SAFE Act.

We will continue to keep you apprised of new developments related to this legislation, which has important implications for the cannabis and banking industries in Michigan. If you have any questions about these issues we are here to assist. Please contact Klint Kesto or your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

Fraser Trebilcock attorney and former Michigan State Legislator Klint Kesto has nearly two decades of experience working in both the public and private sectors, including serving as Co-Chair of the CARES Task Force. You can reach him at or 517.377.0868.

Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency Expands Eligibility for Adult-Use Licenses

Effective March 1, 2021, applicants for multiple classes of adult-use marijuana (i.e., recreational marijuana) licenses are no longer required to hold an active medical marijuana permit to be eligible.

The Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency announced that the eligibility requirement has been removed for five license types:

  • Marijuana retailer
  • Marijuana processor
  • Class B marijuana grower
  • Class C marijuana grower
  • Marijuana secure transporter

In short, as of March 1, 2021, more opportunities to become eligible for licenses became available to more competitors in Michigan fast-growing adult-use marijuana industry.

A Brief Summary of the Two-Step Application Process

The application process involves two steps. Step one is prequalification. The main applicant and any supplemental applicants must submit prequalification applications. Thereafter, background checks are conducted on the main applicant and all supplemental applicants.

The “main applicant” is the entity (e.g., limited liability company, corporation, partnership) or individual (sole proprietor) seeking to hold the marijuana establishment license. A $6,000 nonrefundable application fee is due during step one.

Once prequalification is obtained, a main applicant can move to step two and submit applications for all adult-use marijuana establishment state licenses it seeks to hold. At this time, the MRA will vet the proposed marijuana establishment.

The MRA’s vetting process includes business specifications, proof of financial responsibility, municipality information, and general employee information. Among other requirements, the establishment to be used for marijuana operations must pass an inspection by the MRA within 60 days of submission of a complete application.

In addition to comply with the MRA’s process, applicants will need to concurrently ensure compliance with any and all local regulations and permitting requirements relating to the operation of businesses within the unit of local government in which they seek to operate.

If you have any questions about the application processes—at the state and/or local level in Michigan—for either medical or adult-use marijuana, please contact Paul Mallon, Jr.

mallon-paulPaul C. Mallon, Jr.  is Shareholder and Chair of Fraser Trebilcock’s cannabis law practice. You can reach him at or (313) 965-9043. 

Michigan Municipal Adult-Use Marijuana Licensing Processes Give Rise to Lawsuits

In December, 2019, Michigan authorized the sale of adult-use marijuana (i.e., recreational marijuana). Michigan municipalities are thus automatically deemed to permit adult-use businesses without restriction unless they pass ordinances restricting or prohibiting them within their jurisdictions.

The legalization of adult-use marijuana has resulted in the establishment of procedures for businesses to become licensed to sell in accordance with local regulations and restrictions on the number and types of businesses that qualify. These procedures and restrictions apply in addition to the Michigan Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) and Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA).

Under MRTMA, a municipality is authorized to limit the number of marijuana establishment licenses. If a municipality does impose limitations, and the limit prevents the state from issuing a state license to all applicants, then “the municipality shall decide among competing applications by a competitive process intended to select applicants who are best suited to operate in compliance with [MRTMA] within the municipality.”  MRTMA permits restrictions that go beyond limiting the number of licenses allowed within an area as long as such restrictions  are not “unreasonably impracticable.”  To avoid being unreasonably impracticable restrictions must not “subject licensees to unreasonable risk or require such a high investment of money, time, or any other resource or asset that a reasonably prudent businessperson would not operate the marihuana establishment.”

The process of establishing criteria for businesses seeking marijuana licenses, and reviewing business applications for licenses, is complex. There is a lot of money at stake. And unsurprisingly, in many municipalities across Michigan, the licensing process has led to significant and costly litigation.

In November, 2020, the City of Detroit announced its rules for allowing licensed adult-use marijuana sales, which included controversial provisions meant to give “social equity applicants” a competitive opportunity. Applicants are entitled to preferential treatment if they have lived in Detroit for:

  • 15 of the last 30 years
  • 13 of the last 30 years and are low-income
  • 10 of the last 30 years and have a past marijuana-related criminal conviction, or
  • Have parents who have a prior controlled substance record and still live in the city

These rules gave rise to a lawsuit filed on March 2, 2021, in Wayne County Circuit Court, by a plaintiff who has been a Detroit resident for 11 of the past 30 years who intends to apply for an adult-use retail establishment license.

The lawsuit alleges that the “licensing scheme favors certain Detroit residents over other Michiganders based on the duration of their residency.” The plaintiff argues that the ordinance violates the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause because it “discriminates against out-of-state residents and punishes people for moving between states.”

Detroit is not the first (and almost certainly won’t be the last) municipality to have its licensing process challenged.

In November, 2020, Traverse City was ordered by a judge to refuse to accept applications for adult-use marijuana retail and microbusiness establishments in light of pending lawsuits. One of the primary issues being litigated in the Traverse City lawsuits is whether existing medical marijuana retailers have the automatic right to sell recreational marijuana as well.

In December, 2020, the Oakland County Circuit Court issued a preliminary injunction in a case brought against the City of Berkley, enjoining Berkley from issuing licenses to marijuana establishments pursuant to the MMFLA or MRTMA. The court enjoined Berkley based on the likelihood that its process for scoring and awarding licenses violates the requirements of MRTMA.

The process of establishing rules and reviewing license applications for adult-use marijuana will remain a contentious one. Given that adult-use sales in Michigan totaled nearly $440 million in the first full year of the program, there is a lot to be won (or lost) in the process.

For assistance in the application process, or any other issues related to operating a marijuana business in Michigan, please contact your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

Medical Marijuana: State of Michigan Outlines New Procedures and Requirements for Medical Marijuana Facility Licensing

Medical Marijuana: State of Michigan Outlines New Procedures and Requirements for Medical Marijuana Facility Licensing

Michigan Marijuana LawIn less than a week, the state of Michigan will start accepting medical marijuana license applications. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) released emergency rules on Monday, December 4, 2017, outlining procedures and requirements for potential licensees. The emergency rules are effective for at least the next six months, and could be extended for another six months as LARA continues the promulgation process for permanent rules.

Many of the items addressed in the rules have already been discussed by the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (BMMR) during licensing board meetings occurring earlier this year. Nevertheless, and by way of background, last year the state enacted its Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) to regulate dispensaries and clarify the legality of edible products in Michigan. The law allows licensed dispensaries to operate in communities that choose to allow them. Growers, processers, testing facilities, and transporters are also subject licensure and regulation under the act.

While the MMFLA took effect last year – December 20, 2016 — it included a built-in delay in implementation of 360 days to enable the state to establish the licensing system required by the Act. A person cannot apply to the state for a license of any kind under the MMFLA until Friday, December 15, 2017. And, no one can apply to the state for a license of any kind under the MMFLA unless the municipality where the person is located adopts an ordinance authorizing that type of facility.

Applying for a Medical Marijuana Facilities License

First and foremost under the newly released emergency rules, those seeking a license under the MMFLA will be able to submit applications on December 15, 2017. Applicants will have to pay a $6,000 fee per license application and undergo extensive background checks for anyone who has ownership interest. The background checks will include submitting fingerprints and a handwriting exemplar to the state.

The rules require licensee to meet certain capitalization requirements. The requirements range from $150,000 to $500,000. A retail operation — called a provisioning center – carries a $300,000 capitalization requirement, which must be proven through attested financial statements.

Only 25 percent of the capital required needs to be in liquid assets, cash or cash equivalents – easily converted to cash. Up to 15 ounces of usable marijuana or 72 marijuana plants may be used toward the capitalization requirements.

LARA has broad authority to deny a license. A licensee can be denied if an applicant fails to comply with the rules or if the applicant is operating a facility after December 15 without a license. That said, facilities that are operating in a municipality that has licensed them can operate after December 15, may be permitted to continue operations, but must submit documentation showing the local municipality allowed them to operate. The rules provide no mechanism to appeal an adverse licensing decision, or to contest the imposition of fines and penalties.

Currently operating facilities with municipal licensure must apply for a state license no later than February 15, 2018. If those facilities do not have a state license by June 15, 2018, their operation will be considered unlicensed activity and could be referred to law enforcement.  Although the rules do not address the situation were licensure is not met by June 15 due to government delay.

Details on Licensing

Licenses will be up for renewal annually. Applicants and licensees will be required to report a variety of information to LARA, including changes of location, contact information, members, managers and adverse reactions to a medical marijuana product. Theft or other criminal activity on the premises will have to be reported to the department within 24 hours of occurrence.

LARA has sweeping authority to inspect, examine and audit records of the licensee and enter the facility without notice to inspect. The department is allowed to charge civil fines of up to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 or an amount equal to daily gross receipts against a licensee for violations.  Given the number and various requirements regarding inventory control and the specifications for the physical facility itself, the risk of fines and penalties is no insubstantial.

During the first 30 days a state-operating license is issued to a licensee, marijuana products will need be entered into a statewide monitoring system and inventory will need to be tagged and packaged.

Class C grower licenses, which would allow 1,500 plants, for example, may be stacked under the rules. And licensed growers, processors and provisioning centers will be permitted to operate at the same location.

Security Requirements for Marijuana Facilities

Applicants will be required to submit security plans. Facilities will be required to maintain an alarm system and a 24-hour video surveillance system. Licensed-facilities will also have to maintain visitor logs.

Advertising Stipulations for Marijuana Facilities

Licensees will not be permitted to advertise any marijuana products in a way that is visible to the general public. However, that does not apply to advertisements that are not about a specific product.

Products also will be prohibited from being marketed toward minors, and edible products cannot be associated with cartoons or other things that would appeal to minors. Edible products also cannot be easily confused with commercially sold candy.

Federal Regulation of Marijuana Facilities

Of course, while specified medical use of marijuana is permitted under state law, its use is still illegal under federal law, and we don’t know for sure what the federal government will do in the future with regard to these specified uses. The status quo is that federal attention is diverted away from uses that are “authorized” by and operated in compliance with state laws. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, however, has made his view clear: “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” On the other hand, the industry seems to be growing at a pace that exceeds the federal government’s ability (time and resources) to do much about it.

Fraser Trebilcock understands the regulatory aspects of the marijuana industry along with the legal risks. Our attorneys are available to advise you on issues related to state law and compliance.


Michael P. DonnellyFraser Trebilcock attorney Michael P. Donnelly has years of experience handling matters ranging from major insurance fraud to intellectual property disputes. He formerly served three years as the President of Fraser Trebilcock and is currently the Managing Partner of the Detroit office. He can be contacted at 313.965.4968 or



Fraser Trebilcock attorney Paul V. McCord has more than 20 years of tax litigation experience, including serving as a clerk on the U.S. Tax Court and as a judge of the Michigan Tax Tribunal. Paul has represented clients before the IRS, Michigan Department of Treasury, other state revenue departments and local units of government. He can be contacted at 517.377.0861 or




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