Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most beneficial compounds found in the cannabis plant. For most of modern research history, Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been the focus of the limited research allowed by the Federal Government. But CBD products are now gaining b traction as a viable alternative for those who don't want the psychoactive effects THC offers. Part of CBD's attractiveness is that you can buy it without being a medical patient — but in Michigan, that's about to change.
CBD Laws Pose Stricter Guidelines
Michigan voted its medical marijuana program into law in 2008, but there hasn't been an official stance on CBD products until this year. In May, the state's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) decided to release a clarification on how CBD oil will be handled. The statement says they will allow CBD oil to be sold to anyone with a medical marijuana card. There is a bit of a strange catch, though: According to the state’s definition, the oil is now defined as cannabis, rather than hemp. Anyone who buys or sells CBD oil in Michigan must conform to the state's medical marijuana laws. In other words, consuming CBD is now illegal, unless you’re a medical patient.
The advisory bulletin that addresses CBD makes it clear that LARA regards CBD as being the same as cannabis. According to the brief, Michigan's state law defines marijuana as:
- All parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., growing or not
- The seeds of that plant
- The resin extracted from any part of the plant
- Every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin
Despite clearly stating that all parts of the plant constitute marijuana, the brief immediately goes on to make exceptions and state that "Marijuana does not include":
- The mature stalks of the plant
- Fiber produced from the stalks
- Oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant
- Any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks
The bulletin also clarifies that the term "hemp" is only applicable to the fiber and seed parts of the plant and only grown as part of the Industrial Hemp Research Act (IHRA). The IHRA doesn't allow the sale or transfer of hemp, which means that all CBD products in Michigan are now considered cannabis, even if they contain less than 0.3 percent THC.
Who Does This Hurt?
It seems there isn't much of an upside to this new policy. Thousands of people who could buy CBD products in Michigan before now will have to register for a medical marijuana card in order to access their medicine. In addition to all the people using CBD for chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions, there's a large subset of consumers who take CBD to quell anxiety and depression. People without conditions that qualify under Michigan's medical cannabis law will now be totally out of luck when it comes to getting CBD products.
David Overholt, a medical cannabis caregiver, gave voice to a common concern in an interview with a local news station.
"You didn't need a marijuana card, you didn't have to jeopardize the loss of your income from your employer finding out, you didn't have to lose your rights to bear a firearm." He said. "If you have to now go and get a marijuana card just to get an oil that has no high in it, just healing abilities, I'm afraid that a lot of people will go back to narcotics rather than give up (those) right(s)."
An unfortunate wrinkle in the situation is that it's particularly disadvantageous to veterans. One 34-year-old Navy veteran, Amanda Brunzell, made a grim point.
"It's only hurting veterans" she said. "There's a lot of veterans who won't get their card(s) because the state states that if you're a medical marijuana patient, you can't keep your weapons."
It's not just individuals who will be affected by the new rules on CBD products in Michigan. Within days of the announcement, CBD manufacturers and wholesalers are high-tailing it out of the state. After all, Michigan has just made itself the only state where it's illegal to sell CBD oil to people without medical marijuana cards, and these companies can continue their business without harassment in many other states.
Although some rather reactionary businesses are fleeing the state for greener pastures, others are holding tight to see what developments crop up in the course of November elections. The upcoming ballot contains an initiative that would legalize marijuana, and therefore CBD products, in Michigan for adults aged 21 and older.
But, there's no guarantee that marijuana will be legalized, which means that for the foreseeable future, CBD products in Michigan are something that only card-holding medical patients can access.