GAYLORD — While the issue of legal marijuana is being debated on the national stage, state and local voices say new federal guidelines will not have an immediate effect on the up-and-coming medical marijuana industry in Michigan.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in a memo to federal prosecutors last week that his office would be reversing an Obama-era doctrine that, in practice, gave free rein to states in making and enforcing their own laws regarding the legality of marijuana.
It is unclear at this point what effect that decision will have on Michigan’s new medical marijuana laws, which went into effect at the end of last year.
In a statement provided via email, David Harns, spokesman for the state’s Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation, a part of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), said the department is moving forward as normal with the application process.
“The Michigan Legislature authorized the licensing of medical marihuana facilities and required a rigorous statewide monitoring system to help keep Michigan’s citizens safe,” he said. “LARA is tasked with implementing the Michigan Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act and will continue to move forward in accepting and processing applications for state operating licenses.”
He said the first batch of applications is due to be sent to the state Marijuana Licensing Board by March or April.
Al Witt, a medical marijuana advocate and former dispensary employee, said those hoping to get into the medical marijuana game here at home have more immediate concerns.
“Obviously nobody wants to see people go to jail for a plant anymore, but from my understanding, they’re not going after any that are medicinal, but the ones that are recreational,” he said. “Michigan’s a medicinal state at this time.”