by Rick Thompson/December 28, 2017
LANSING– In a press release issued on December 27, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has changed the patient and caregiver applications for the medical marijuana program and is warning patients about misinformation being given by certification centers and other entities.
The press release is titled, “LARA Advises Patients on Michigan Medical Marihuana Program Registration Process”. LARA is the department which facilitates licensing and discipline of registered professional services in Michigan, among other things. Within LARA, all the medical marijuana programs are housed in the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (BMMR). That includes two separate programs: the Medical Marihuana Program (MMMP) created in 2008 to govern patients, and the Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) from 2016, which is a business program currently in development.
“The MMMP has new, revised applications and forms available on the MMMP website at www.michigan.gov/mmp. Applicants, registered patients, and registered caregivers are required to use these forms effective February 1, 2018,” according to the press release. “Failure to use the new forms after that date will result in a denial or the form being rejected. Those submitting an application or request for changes to his or her registration should only download forms from the MMMP’s website.”
The press release describes various ways in which patients can safeguard themselves from accidental conflicts with law enforcement, and issued guidance on how to correctly submit applications or to re-submit after an application has been denied.
“Individuals with questions regarding the MMMP’s application and registration process should communicate directly with the MMMP by reviewing the FAQs on the MMMP website at www.michigan.gov/mmp, emailing LARA-BMMMR-MMMPINFO@michigan.gov, or calling 517-284-6400.”
Any patient designating a caregiver now must pay $25 at their time of registration for a total fee of $85.00. The patient application must include a copy of the caregiver’s personal identification and their signature. Patients who do not designate a caregiver are still charged $60 for a two-year medical marijuana registration. Patients who change caregivers during their 2-year registration process are now charged $35.00. Patients who need to change their plant possession designation must pay $10 and fill out a new form.
The application now divides the named ailments and illnesses which the medical marijuana program designates as qualifying conditions into three different categories. Category A are the eight named conditions contained in the Medical Marihuana Act: Cancer, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and others. Category B are the general sufferings which the majority of the medical marijuana program’s applicants cite: severe/chronic pain, nausea, muscle spasms and the like. New is the Category C designation for the only named illness of a mental state: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Adult patient and minor patient forms can be found at the MMMP’s website HERE.
The new applications contain a warning, directly above the line where the patient’s signature must appear: “I understand that falsified or fraudulent information may be reported to law enforcement and result in criminal prosecution.”
ADVISORY WARNING TO PATIENTS, CAREGIVERS
As businesses in the patient services industry become more prominent the names used may make it difficult for the state’s ill and injured to distinguish between commercial entities and government-run programs, the press release implies. From the press release:
MMMP is not affiliated with any third-party business operations, “dispensaries,” provisioning centers, caregivers, or certifying physicians and is not associated with any business operation that uses the terms “Michigan Medical Marihuana Program” or “MMMP” in their name or advertising.
Additionally the press release offers advice to new patients who legally pay a physician to validate their need for medical marijuana. Often these certification services tell patients that they may begin acquiring cannabis immediately upon receiving the doctor’s recommendation, which is incorrect information, per LARA.
“Third-party business operations which tell patients that their application and physician certification serve as a temporary registration card are putting the patients at risk of possible arrest. As outlined in the MMMA, a patient or caregiver must present their valid registry identification card and a valid driver license – or government-issued identification card with photo – to law enforcement to be protected from arrest.”
It is best to wait until the registrant has received their ‘hard card’ before transferring cannabis, according to LARA’s press release. When the MMFLA’s medical marijuana business community is up and running, any purchase made at a provisioning center will require the presence of a hard card and a patient identification number.
“BMMR recommends that applicants wait until they receive a registry card before engaging in the medical use of marihuana.”
Another advisory involves the retaining of personal patient information by certification services, distribution centers and other ancillary businesses.
“Patients should not allow other individuals or third parties to submit their applications or any other documents to the MMMP,” the advisory suggests. “Patients should not allow other individuals or third parties to retain copies of their documents, state-issued driver licenses, personal identification cards, or voter registrations as that increases the possibility of fraudulent submissions.”
The press release does not detail any issues with fraudulent applications or reveal the frequency with which these applications are received. A recent report verifies that LARA revoked no registry cards during Fiscal Year 2017 for any of the 269,553 patients or the 43,183 caregivers enrolled in the system, indicating fraudulent entries are not a problem at this point.
Although the MMMP and the MMFLA are two different programs, they will intersect at the time when retail establishments are open to sell medicinal cannabis to registered patients and caregivers through dispensaries, called provisioning centers in the new law.
“While there are currently no licensed provisioning centers in the state of Michigan, patients who wish to acquire medical marihuana or medical marihuana-infused products from licensed provisioning centers in the future must first present a valid registry identification card at the time of purchase,” the press release points out.