Anyone who has been present at pre-licensing inspections has had a front row seat to the awkward transitioning of the unregulated dispensary community that proliferated throughout Michigan prior to the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, to the current licensed and highly-regulated medical cannabis provisioning center. One of the most glaring modifications has been the changeover from medicated edible products. Michigan’s current rules only state that infused cannabis products may not be marketed to minors, but the definition of what is attractive to minors, as Michigan provisioning centers are discovering, is proving to be as slippery as the classic and oft-cited definition of pornography, “I can’t tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it.”
The Michigan Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (BMMR), has a team of enforcement officers on the ground in Michigan who assist their partners in pre-licensing, The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), in conducting the inspections. The problem is that the definition of what an acceptable edible product entails is still being fine-tuned. One week’s legal product is next week’s taboo, and this is unfortunately a costly exercise for applicants who have to pull product off of their shelves to pass licensing.
“One week’s legal product is next week’s taboo, and this is unfortunately a costly exercise for applicants who have to pull product off of their shelves to pass licensing.”
Despite the uncertainty, LARA’s currently established cannabis rules are paving the way for a better industry. Rule 33 for instance, which LARA lists as “Requirements and restrictions on marihuana-infused products; edible marijuana product” provides a general idea of what is and is not allowed for cannabis edibles. Here is where the most important rules currently stand regarding the basic restrictions on what a medical edible product can and cannot resemble in the state of Michigan:
- Anything with a child’s cartoon on the packaging is not allowed. Any product resembling copyrighted characters, gummy bears, unicorns and other animals are history. Animations and graphics of an adult nature are okay.
- Anything resembling something a child would want to eat is not acceptable. This also falls under the category of anything that an adult would probably prefer to eat: Rice Krispy treats, cake pops, cotton candy, nerd ropes, push pops or pixie sticks. Chocolates are fine, and so are gummies in the shape of circles, triangles or squares. Just not gummies in the form of actual bears.
- Any drink that looks like Kool-Aid or any other beverage with color is out. Now this is a tricky one. It seems as though these beverages may be okay if they are in opaque containers; however, nobody in Michigan has been able to get their process for creating these beverages approved.
- Anything that resembles a well-known candy brand or other snack food is out.
- Anything requiring refrigeration or heat to maintain its integrity as food is out. This includes hummus, ice cream and pizza.
- All infused products must be placed in child-resistant packages or containers.
If you’re confused, you’re not alone. The BMMR and LARA are learning as they go, too, as evidenced by their constant and mildly entertaining advisory bulletins. The good news is that the BMMR agents (many who are ironically retired law enforcement) are more relaxed than they used to be, and during this pre-licensing phase are only concerned with education. The bad news is that you are unlikely to find candy corn, wax teeth or popcorn balls at your local provisioning center this Halloween. Maybe next year.