Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – February 23, 2024

  1. Michigan Awarded Nearly $23 Million for Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

The State of Michigan recently announced that nearly $23 million has been awarded to multiple locations across Michigan for electric vehicle infrastructure. The funds are being allocated via the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program.

Why it Matters: Electric vehicle growth and EV infrastructure is an important clean energy and economic growth priority in Michigan. However, recent reports suggest the market for EVs is slowing, and the issue has become a hot-button topic in this year’s presidential campaign. A New York Times article discussed the contentiousness of the issue in a story this week titled, “For Michigan’s Economy, Electric Vehicles are Promising and Scary.”

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  1. Increase in the Small Business Property Tax Exemption

Eligibility for the so-called “Small Business Property Tax Exemption” has expanded. Legislation passed last October 2023, expands the exemption by increasing the eligibility limit to from the $80,000 true cash value limit to $180,000.

Why it Matters: The exemption is only for commercial and industrial personal property (residential/individuals are not subject to personal property taxes). Once filed, and if granted, the exemption will remain as long as the small business still qualifies. In other words, there is no need to file an exemption claim every year. Read more.

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  1. Michigan CRA Publishes January 2024 Data: Average Price Decreases

Per data released by the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA), the average retail price for adult-use sales of an ounce of cannabis in January was $93.20, a decrease from $95.08 in December 2023. This is an increase from January 2023, where the average price was $80.16.

Why it Matters: While the prices of cannabis and cannabis-related products continue to decrease and make consumers happy, growers on the other hand are seeing profits decrease resulting in them seeking ways to halt new licenses to be granted in an effort to steady prices. Contact our cannabis law attorneys if you have any questions.

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  1. Michigan’s Repealed “Right-to-Work” Law Takes Effect

On Tuesday, February 13, 2024, Michigan’s repeal of the prior “right-to-work” law governing private-sector workers went into effect.

Why it Matters: The result of the repeal is that private-sector unions may permissibly negotiate to impasse, and enforce, “union security” provisions requiring membership in, or financial support through “Beck Objector” fees, of those unions. Read more.

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  1. Retroactive PPT Exemption

Some Michigan manufacturers who were not able to claim their 2021 ESA-PPT exemption due to COVID-19, have until March 14 to request approval from the State Tax Commission.

Why it Matters: The ESA is a State specific tax on personal property that is exempt from property taxes at the local level because the property meets certain eligibility requirements, such as being qualified manufacturing or industrial personal property. In order to elect out of local personal property taxes and into the ESA regime, manufacturers must file the required forms with their local assessing office by February 20th of each year. Learn more.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Energy, Utilities & Telecommunication | Sean Gallagher
Business & Tax | Paul McCord
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – February 16, 2024

  1. Michigan Eliminates Pharmaceutical Company Immunity

Governor Whitmer recently signed Senate Bill 410 into law, which repeals the provision under Michigan’s Product Liability Act which granted immunity to pharmaceutical companies. A rebuttable presumption of non-liability and caps on non-economic damages remain intact.

Why it Matters: Pharmaceutical companies have had near-total immunity from product liability claims in Michigan for approximately 30 years. The law took effect on February 13, 2024.

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  1. Retroactive PPT Exemption

Some Michigan manufacturers who were not able to claim their 2021 ESA-PPT exemption due to COVID-19, have until March 14 to request approval from the State Tax Commission.

Why it Matters: The ESA is a State specific tax on personal property that is exempt from property taxes at the local level because the property meets certain eligibility requirements, such as being qualified manufacturing or industrial personal property. In order to elect out of local personal property taxes and into the ESA regime, manufacturers must file the required forms with their local assessing office by February 20th of each year. Learn more.

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  1. Michigan’s Repealed “Right-to-Work” Law Takes Effect

On Tuesday, February 13, 2024, Michigan’s repeal of the prior “right-to-work” law governing private-sector workers went into effect.

Why it Matters: The result of the repeal is that private-sector unions may permissibly negotiate to impasse, and enforce, “union security” provisions requiring membership in, or financial support through “Beck Objector” fees, of those unions. Read more.

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  1. Michigan Cannabis Exceeds $242 Million in January ‘24

Cannabis sales surpassed $242 million in January, via the monthly report from the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency. Michigan adult-use sales came in at $240,289,360.60, while medical sales came in at $2,523,333.56, totaling $242,812,694.16.

Why it Matters: Marijuana sales remain strong in Michigan, particularly for recreational use. However, there still are significant concerns about profitability and market oversaturation that the industry is contending with.

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  1. Client Alert/Reminder: Form W-2 Reporting Due for Employer-Provided Health Care / Disclosure Due to CMS for Medicare Part D

Unless subject to an exemption, employers must report the aggregate cost of employer-sponsored health coverage provided in 2023 on their employees’ Form W-2 (Code DD in Box 12) issued in January 2024. Please see IRS Notice 2012-09. Additionally, group health plans offering prescription drug coverage are required to disclose to all Part D-eligible individuals who are enrolled in or were seeking to enroll in the group health plan coverage whether such coverage was creditable.

Why it Matters: The filing deadline is 60 days following the first day of the plan year. If you operate a calendar year plan, the deadline is the end of February. If you operate a non-calendar year plan, please be sure to keep track of your deadline. Contact your Fraser Trebilcock attorney for any questions.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Business & Tax | Paul McCord
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Employee Benefits | Bob Burgee
Employee Benefits | Sharon Goldzweig

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – February 2, 2024

  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.

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  1. Understanding How Trademarks, Copyrights, and Patents Protect Your Business

Trademark registration separates your business from your competition and makes you unique. It is one method of protecting your intangibles while publicly providing notice to other businesses or individuals to avoid copying or infringing on your intellectual property rights.

Why it Matters: But when do you need this? When do you get them? And what are they for? Learn more on this series about trademarks, copyrights, and patents from Fraser Trebilcock attorney Andrew Martin.

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  1. Ward Off 2024 Tax Season Flu – File Early and Electronically

Earlier this week, January 29, 2024, marked the start date for the 2024 filing season and the first date that the IRS will begin accepting and processing 2024 returns. The IRS will issue most electronically filed refunds within 21 days, however there are a variety of factors that can delay the issuance of any refund claim outside of the 21-day period, so one should not rely on receiving a refund within 21-days.

Why it Matters: It is important to file early and electronically to avoid any delays in receiving a refund, if applicable. If you have any questions, contact your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

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  1. The DOL Issues Final Rule Creating New Standard for Classifying Workers as Employees vs. Independent Contractors

On January 9, 2024, the United States Department of Labor released its final rule on worker classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Why it Matters: This new rule, effective as of March 11, 2024, signals a return to a standard more likely to classify workers as employees than contractors. Thus, it is more likely that employers will be determined to have misclassified workers as contractors, resulting in liability. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

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  1. Michigan Legal Cannabis Sales Hit New Record in 2023

Licensed cannabis dispensaries in Michigan registered a record $3.06 billion in sales in 2023. This represents a 25% increase over sales in 2022. Recreational cannabis accounted for $2.74 billion of total sales in 2023.

Why it Matters: According to an analysis by Metro Times, more than $274 million in tax revenue from cannabis sales will go to local governments, schools, and roads.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Professional Licensing | Robert Andretz
Intellectual Property | Andrew Martin
Business & Tax | Paul McCord
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – January 26, 2024

  1. Michigan Amendment Imposes Reporting Requirement for Broker-Dealers and Investment Advisers to Report Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults

Effective March 13, 2024, an amendment to the Michigan Uniform Securities Act (new Section 451.2533) will take effect that is intended to protect elder and vulnerable adults from financial exploitation. Among other things, the law requires broker-dealers and state-registered investment advisers to report suspected financial exploitation to a law enforcement agency or adult protective services.

Why it Matters: According to the Michigan Department of Attorney General website, more than 73,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of elder abuse, including financial exploitation.

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  1. The DOL Issues Final Rule Creating New Standard for Classifying Workers as Employees vs. Independent Contractors

On January 9, 2024, the United States Department of Labor released its final rule on worker classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Why it Matters: This new rule, effective as of March 11, 2024, signals a return to a standard more likely to classify workers as employees than contractors. Thus, it is more likely that employers will be determined to have misclassified workers as contractors, resulting in liability. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

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  1. Michigan Federal Judge Dismisses Complaint Against Firm Client

A Michigan federal judge recently dismissed a complaint against the firm’s client represented by attorneys Thaddeus E. Morgan and Ryan K. Kauffman, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Why it Matters: The complaint alleged that the firm’s client, together with another state bar, illegally conspired to prevent the plaintiff from practicing law in their respective states. However, the Eleventh Amendment prohibits a suit brought in federal court against a state, its agencies and officials, unless the state has waived its sovereign immunity or consented to being sued. The Eleventh Amendment limits federal subject matter jurisdiction, and as a result of the state bar functioning as an extension of the state’s Supreme Court, it is a state agency that possesses Eleventh Amendment immunity. Read more.

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  1. Michigan Cannabis Sales Eclipse $3 Billion in 2023

Michigan cannabis sales total $3,057,161,285.85, via the collection of monthly reports from the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency. This is a 30% increase from 2022, which saw total sales at $2,293,823,890.11.

Why it Matters: Marijuana sales remain strong in Michigan, particularly for recreational use. However, there still are significant concerns about profitability and market oversaturation that the industry is contending with.

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  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.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Litigation | Ryan Kauffman
Litigation | Thaddeus Morgan
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Employee Benefits | Bob Burgee
Employee Benefits | Sharon Goldzweig

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – January 19, 2024

  1. New Michigan Law Mandates Compulsory Arbitration for Higher Education Police Officers

Michigan’s law regarding compulsory arbitration of public labor disputed has been amended to include higher education institution police officers. The change takes effect on January 22, 2024.

Why it Matters: Higher education institutions should assess the impact the new law may have on their workforce.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Welcomes Phyllis Dahl to the Firm

We are pleased to announce the hiring of Phyllis Dahl as the firm’s new Office Manager.

Why it Matters: Ms. Dahl has over three decades of experience in the legal industry, having worked at two private law firms before joining Fraser Trebilcock. She has a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Central Michigan University. Read more.

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  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.

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  1. Michigan Cannabis Pulls in Nearly $280 Million in December

Cannabis sales are just below $280 million in December, via the monthly report from the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency. Michigan adult-use sales came in at $276,732,645.94, while medical sales came in at $3,177,042.62, totaling $279,909,688.56.

Why it Matters: Marijuana sales remain strong in Michigan, particularly for recreational use. However, there still are significant concerns about profitability and market oversaturation that the industry is contending with.

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  1. CRA Publishes December 2023 Data: Average Price Decreases

Per data released by the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA), the average retail price for adult-use sales of an ounce of cannabis in December was $95.08, a small decrease from $97.51 in November. For the second time, this is an increase to the average price when compared to the year prior, when in December 2022, the average price was $90.68.

Why it Matters: While the prices of cannabis and cannabis-related products continue to decrease and make consumers happy, growers on the other hand are seeing profits decrease resulting in them seeking ways to halt new licenses to be granted in an effort to steady prices. Contact our cannabis law attorneys if you have any questions.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Higher Education | Ryan Kauffman
Phyllis Dahl
Employee Benefits | Bob Burgee
Employee Benefits | Sharon Goldzweig
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher

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

  1. Cannabis Regulatory Agency Announces $1 Million Social Equity Grant Program

Michigan’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) announced a $1 million grant program to applicants who have a recreational marijuana license, have eligible Social Equity Program participants, and participate in the CRA’s “Social Equity All-Star Program.”

Why it Matters: The program is intended to encourage participation in the industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Welcomes Danielle Lofton to the Firm

We are pleased to announce the hiring of attorney Danielle Lofton who will work primarily in the firm’s Lansing office, focusing her practice on insurance defense.

Why it Matters: Ms. Lofton represents clients with personal injury claims including no-fault cases for several years. She has routinely secured early dismissals through successful motions and negotiated favorable settlements for her clients. Learn more.

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  1. Department of Labor Issues New Rule on Independent Contractors

This week, the US Department of Labor issued a new rule modifying its analysis for determining whether a worker is an employee, or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The final rule is effective on March 11, 2024.

Why it Matters: We previously reported on the Department of Labor publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding classification of employee or independent contractor under the FLSA. Under this final rule effective on March 11, 2024, it will provide clearer guidance for employers and how they determine their workers’ classifications, and further protect employees from misclassification.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Attorney Andrew J. Moore Elected to Board of Directors of Catholic Bar Association

We are pleased to announce that attorney ​Andrew J. Moore has been elected to the Board of Directors for the Catholic Bar Association, a national bar association with members in all 50 states. “I am honored to be elected to the Board of Directors, and I look forward to continuing the mission of the Catholic Bar Association,” said Andrew Moore.

Why it Matters: Andrew focuses his practice on general litigation matters, insurance defense, estate and trust administration, real estate transactions, family law, and criminal defense. His experience covers a range of practice areas, from out of court matters such as assisting clients in estate planning and business and tax matters to representing clients at trial in insurance, divorce, and criminal defense proceedings. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Lansing Catholic Lawyers Guild. Read more.

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  1. Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission Required to Redraw Seven House Districts

A three-judge panel ordered this week that the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission redraw seven state House districts by February 2nd, after it was ruled unconstitutional.

Why it Matters: Last year, a group of voters sued the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission alleging that the Commission had violated the federal Voting Rights Act by drawing maps that impacted black voters’ opportunity to elect their preferred candidates.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Insurance Law | Danielle Lofton
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Litigation | Andrew Moore
Election Law

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – December 22, 2023

  1. Reminder: Prevailing Wage Act Being Reinstated in Michigan in 2024

As we prepare for the calendar to turn to 2024, it’s important for businesses to be aware of laws that will take effect in the new year. One is the reinstatement of Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Act (the “Act”), which will require contractors and subcontractors in Michigan to pay the prevailing wage and benefit rates to employees working on most state funded construction projects.

Why it Matters: A prevailing wage law was in effect in Michigan from 1965 until 2018 when the law was repealed. On March 24, 2023, Governor Whitmer signed the Act into law. It will take effect in March of 2024.

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  1. How do you Defend an Amazon Neutral Patent Evaluation?

Amazon’s Neutral Patent Infringement Program (NPE) is Amazon’s version of a quasi-judicial court to resolve patent infringement disputes between sellers. It is akin to an arbitration or mediation overseen by an experienced and vetted patent practitioner. NPE is not a court of law, so any of the rulings are not prejudicial on any platform or marketplace other than Amazon.com. However, it aims to provide a more cost-effective method to resolve patent disputes between sellers.

Why it Matters: The program is initiated once a patent holder submits a complaint to Amazon through Amazon’s seller portal. The accused product is immediately removed from its Amazon listing and the accused infringer is notified. The accused infringer then may negotiate a settlement directly with the rights holder or agree to participate in the NPE program. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Announces 2024 Board of Directors

The Shareholders of Fraser Trebilcock, one of Michigan’s long-established full-service law firms, have elected Thaddeus E. Morgan as President of the firm. Shareholders H. Kirby Albright and Ryan K. Kauffman were re-elected to the Board of Directors. Mr. Albright will serve as Vice President & Treasurer, and Mr. Kauffman will serve as Secretary.

Why it Matters: When it matters in Michigan, we are the trusted advisor for businesses and individuals requiring planning and consulting services, or facing legal and regulatory challenges, and our capabilities extend to wherever clients require counsel. The annual election of the Board of Directors allows Fraser Trebilcock to continue its tradition of exceptional client service, dedicated community involvement and professional excellence. Read more.

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  1. Michigan Cannabis Exceeds $260 Million in November

Cannabis sales surpassed $260 million in November, via the monthly report from the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency. Michigan adult-use sales came in at $256,677,143.52, while medical sales came in at $3,808,138.68, totaling $260,485,282.20.

Why it Matters: Marijuana sales remain strong in Michigan, particularly for recreational use. However, there still are significant concerns about profitability and market oversaturation that the industry is contending with.

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  1. Cass County Circuit Court Rules that Growing Cannabis is an “Agricultural Operation” Under Michigan’s General Property Tax Act

HRP Cassopolis, LLC (“HRP”) owns real property located in LaGrange Township, located in Cass County, Michigan. The property, which consists of two parcels, is leased to a cannabis grower and retailer. LaGrange Township’s assessor classified both parcels as “Commercial” under the Michigan General Property Tax Act (“GPTA”). In response to the classification, HRP submitted a petition to the board of review, which denied the petition. HRP then appealed to the State Tax Commission, which also upheld the decision to classify the parcels as commercial. HRP then filed a Claim of Appeal with the Cass County Circuit Court.

Why it Matters: On appeal, the appellee argued that the assessor properly classified the property as commercial because HRP did not establish that growing cannabis is an “agricultural operation” under the GPTA. The GPTA defines an agricultural operation as “growing and harvesting any agricultural, horticultural, or floricultural commodity.” The Circuit Court rejected the appellee’s arguments and ruled in favor of HRP. The court explained that caselaw requires it to give the words in a statute their plain and ordinary meaning, and in this case, according to the court, “cannabis cultivation falls squarely within [GPTA’s] definition of an agricultural operation.”

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Intellectual Property | Andrew Martin
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – December 15, 2023

  1. The Effective Date of the Repeal of Michigan’s Right-to-Work Law Will be Sooner Than Expected

The Michigan legislature repealed the state’s right-to-work law earlier this year. The law provided that employees in Michigan could not be forced by union contracts to join or financially support any labor organization as a condition of employment. The effective date of the repeal was anticipated to be March 30, 2024, however it will now likely be effective on February 13, 2024.

Why it Matters: The effective date of the repeal is tied to the end of the Michigan legislature’s legislative session. Because the legislature ended its legislative session early this year, on November 14, 2023, the effective date will come sooner than anticipated.

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  1. CRA Publishes November 2023 Data: Average Price Decreases

Per data released by the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA), the average retail price for adult-use sales of an ounce of cannabis in October was $97.51, a very minimal decrease from $97.62 in October. For the first time, this is an increase to the average price when compared to the year prior, when in November 2022, the average price was $95.12.

Why it Matters: While the prices of cannabis and cannabis-related products continue to decrease and make consumers happy, growers on the other hand are seeing profits decrease resulting in them seeking ways to halt new licenses to be granted in an effort to steady prices. Contact our cannabis law attorneys if you have any questions.

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  1. Qualified Michigan Residents Set to Receive Checks From EITC

It was announced earlier this week that qualified Michigan residents under the state’s expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program should start to expect to receive their checks in the mail starting February 13, 2024. It is estimated it will take up to six weeks to distribute payments.

Why it Matters: As we covered earlier this year, the Michigan legislature had passed a bill, which Governor Whitmer signed into law, expanding the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The law retroactively increased the state’s EITC to 30% of the federal credit, where it is estimated to impact over 700,000 low-income workers. Families should receive on average $550.

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  1. Governor Whitmer Signs Bills Permitting State and Tribal Businesses to Engage in Commerce with Each Other

The landscape of the cannabis industry in Michigan continues to evolve as new legislative efforts in Michigan aim to bridge the operational divide between state-licensed cannabis enterprises and tribal cannabis businesses. Two pivotal bills, Senate Bill 179 and Senate Bill 180, were signed by Governor Whitmer on October 19, 2023, creating a collaborative business environment for these formerly siloed entities.

Why it Matters: Prior to the legislation being enacted, state-licensed and tribal cannabis operations in Michigan functioned independently, restrained from mutual commerce and collaboration, including prohibitions on cannabis products being sold between these businesses. The new legislation allows these two distinct parts of the cannabis industry to interact.

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  1. Patentable vs. Infringing: What’s the Difference?

The patent system is intended to spur innovation, incentivize inventors, and protect against infringement. One of the big challenges innovators face in this realm is understanding patentability and what constitutes infringement.

Why it Matters: The distinction between what is patentable and what is infringing is defined by the scope of the patent claims. For instance, a new invention that improves upon a patented product may still be patentable even though the envisioned product itself may infringe on the patented claims. On the other hand, a product that is not patentable may also infringe granted patents. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Intellectual Property | Andrew Martin

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – December 8, 2023

  1. Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Order for State Vehicles to be Zero-Emission by 2040

On Tuesday, Governor Whitmer signed an executive directive mandating the state government to convert its fleet of cars and trucks to zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

Why it Matters: In a statement accompanying the directive, Governor Whitmer stated that the transition would reduce air pollution, help boost demand for Michigan-made electric vehicles, and lower fuel costs. The directive comes on the heels of Governor Whitmer signing legislation that will impose a new 100% clean energy standard for utilities to hit by 2040.

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  1. Patentable vs. Infringing: What’s the Difference?

The patent system is intended to spur innovation, incentivize inventors, and protect against infringement. One of the big challenges innovators face in this realm is understanding patentability and what constitutes infringement.

Why it Matters: The distinction between what is patentable and what is infringing is defined by the scope of the patent claims. For instance, a new invention that improves upon a patented product may still be patentable even though the envisioned product itself may infringe on the patented claims. On the other hand, a product that is not patentable may also infringe granted patents. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

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  1. Michigan Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Minimum Wage

Earlier this week, the Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the “adopt-and-amend” actions on two ballot initiatives from 2018 that alter the state’s minimum wage and paid sick leave requirements were constitutional.

Why it Matters: The Michigan Supreme Court is anticipated to make a decision in 2024. If the Supreme Court upholds the adopt-and-amend process that the Court of Appeals deemed constitutional, then employers will operate under the current minimum wage and paid sick leave requirements. However, if the process is found unconstitutional and the Supreme Court overrules the lower court’s decision, then it would reinstate the original 2018 initiatives on minimum wage and paid sick leave requirements.

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  1. Ohio Senate Passes Bill Altering Legal Cannabis Program

On Wednesday, the Ohio Senate voted on a proposal that would alter the state’s legal cannabis program, after voters passed Issue 2 in November, allowing the sale of recreational cannabis to adults 21 years or older.

Why it Matters: The bill now moves onto the House, and if it passes, the Governor has indicated he will sign it. Some of the proposed changes include reducing the number of homegrown plants allowed to 6 (from 12), increasing the tax on sales from 10% to 15%, allowing medicinal shops to sell to recreational users, and altering the way tax revenue would be spent, allocating funds to different programs.

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  1. Michigan Cannabis Sales in Third Quarter Nearly $75 Million More than Second Quarter

Michigan cannabis sales totaled $827,737,257.25 in the third quarter of 2023, a nearly $75 million increase from the second quarter in which sales totaled $752,770,513.25.

Why it Matters: Marijuana sales remain strong in Michigan, particularly for recreational use. However, there still are significant concerns about profitability and market oversaturation that the industry is contending with.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Energy, Utilities & Telecommunication | Sean Gallagher
Intellectual Property | Andrew Martin
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – November 24, 2023

  1. Michigan Minimum Wage Set for Small Increase for 2024

Michigan’s minimum wage is set to increase on January 1, 2024, per the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act of 2018 which establishes the annual schedule of increases. The minimum hourly wage will increase to $10.33 per hour; the 85% rate for minors aged 16 and 17 will increase to $8.78 per hour; the tipped employee rate of hourly pay increases to $3.93 per hour; and the training wage of $4.25 per hour for newly hired employees ages 16 to 19 for their first 90 days of employment remains unchanged.

Why it Matters: As we approach the new year, t’s important to be aware of new laws, and changes to existing laws, that are set to take effect as of January 1, 2024. Contact us with any questions.

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  1. Streamline Corporate Transparency Act Reporting with a FinCEN Identifier

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), announced and elaborated on the use and availability of FinCEN identifiers. Under this new guidance, FinCEN identifiers may be crucial for business owners, particularly for those managing multiple entities.

Why it Matters: A FinCEN identifier is a unique number assigned by FinCEN to individuals and reporting companies, streamlining the reporting process under the CTA. Businesses will need to be prepared come 2024 for the new reporting requirements. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorneys.

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  1. Michigan Cannabis Sales Exceed $262 Million in October

Cannabis sales surpassed $262 million in October, via the monthly report from the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency. Michigan adult-use sales came in at $258,474,612.51, while medical sales came in at $4,416,590.58, totaling $262,891,203.09.

Why it Matters: Marijuana sales remain strong in Michigan, particularly for recreational use. However, there still are significant concerns about profitability and market oversaturation that the industry is contending with.

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  1. Package of Clean Energy Bills Head to Governor’s Whitmer’s Desk

A package of bills, including one that would require companies to make 100% of their energy through renewables such as solar and wind by 2040, and also seeks to reduce energy waste, among other objectives, is on its way to Governor Whitmer’s desk for signature after passing both the Senate and House.

Why it Matters: Clean energy legislation is a major priority for Michigan Democrats but is opposed by Republicans and has received pushback from many business groups, who argue the legislation would increase energy costs.

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  1. CRA Issues Bulletin for Product Recall

On November 20, the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA), issued a bulletin for a voluntary product recall, after it was discovered that the product exceeds the maximum dosage of 10mg of THC per serving.

Why it Matters: It is important for cannabis producers to adhere to the rules and regulations when handling medical and adult-use cannabis, otherwise they can face product recalls and fines and/or penalties.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Business & Tax | Robert Burgee
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Energy, Utilities & Telecommunication | Sean Gallagher