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Michigan Cannabis Regulator Plans Crackdown on Illicit Products

The top cannabis regulator in Michigan said Tuesday that the state is planning to “expose” businesses operating in the legal marijuana market that have engaged in illicit practices and sold illegal products.

The Detroit News reported that Brian Hanna, the acting director of the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency, told assembled media that “the agency is planning actions that will expose bad actors and serve as a warning to other regulated businesses.”

“If there’s anybody cutting corners or cheating, we want to expose that and take a strong enforcement approach on that,” Hanna told reporters, as quoted by the Detroit News.

The publication reported that some of the issues the regulatory agency intends to address are “proper tagging and registering of marijuana products in the statewide system and proper maintenance of required cameras — both requirements that, if abandoned, allow for a proliferation of illegal weed in regulated facilities and snarl state efforts to identify it.”

Hanna, who took over as acting director of the agency in September following the resignation of Andrew Brisbo in August, told reporters on Tuesday that “his focus over the first 90 days as acting director is to engage stakeholders to better understand what’s working in the industry and what isn’t, and to crack down on illicit cannabis products in the market, including marijunana that is grown and processed in other states,” according to the Detroit News. He also said that the “the department is hiring six new regulatory agents, two inspectors, two analysts and a laboratory specialist, is planning more unannounced inspections and is taking a second look at the department’s current operating procedures as it emerges from the pandemic, when the agency had pulled back much of its field staff.”

Michigan voters approved 2018’s ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana use. Adult-use marijuana sales began in late 2019. 

In January, the state consolidated all regulatory bodies that were responsible for the production and distribution of marijuana in this country, creating the Cannabis Regulatory Agency. 

Before the restructuring, the regulation of hemp in Michigan was done by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The Marijuana Regulatory Agency dealt with cannabis.

The Cannabis Regulatory Agency now oversees them both.

“Consolidating multiple government functions into the newly named Cannabis Regulatory Agency will help us continue growing our economy and creating jobs,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the changes in February. “And to be blunt-safe, legal cannabis entrepreneurship, farming and consumption helps us put Michiganders first by directing the large windfall of tax revenue from this new industry to make bigger, bolder investments in local schools, roads, and first responders.” 

Earlier this month, the Cannabis Regulatory Agency issued a 30-day suspension of a marijuana retailer in Detroit, after it conducted “an unannounced compliance visit at the licensed provisioning center and observed multiple bags, backpacks, and duffle bags of suspected marijuana products that did not have the tracking identification numbers assigned by the statewide monitoring system (METRC) attached.”

After advising the retailer to “not to sell or destroy the untagged products until the investigation was completed and until guidance was given,” regulators returned “to the provisioning center facility and inquired about the untagged marijuana products,” only to discover that the remaining untagged products had been destroyed. 

“The Cannabis Regulatory Agency has a legal responsibility to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public,” said agency spokesman David Harns. “Our licensees must follow all of the rules and laws that govern the cannabis industry. Untagged marijuana products and the inability to provide video footage is simply unacceptable.”