Update: Being a Medical Patient in Michigan

Howdy doody and Happy Holidays to al

Dr. Lee here. Today I’m talking to some of our retailer friends to get a sense of how the medical marijauna system in Michigan works for patients. It’s one of the oldest medical marijuana programs in the midwest and has several unique features. It’s also experiencing a big boom in 2020, so I figured we’d run down the process as the state has made some changes this year.

Oh, and you can get deliveries in Michigan. So other midwest states- be jealous.

What do I need to become a medical patient?

You need to provide proof of Michigan residency. This is easiest through a Michigan-issued driver’s license or a Michigan ID card. The state will also accept a Michigan Voter ID registration but will also ask for a passport or birth certificate if you use your Voter ID. You will also need a physician’s recommendation (that’s us!) and a computer. You also need to have a qualifying medical condition.

How long does it take to become a patient?

You can book an appointment with us typically on the same-day. Once you submit everything to the state through their online system, they usually get back with you within a week- sometimes as short as 3-4 days. Your approval will come via email attachment. I used to tell people that they’d get a plastic card in the mail too, but the state has done away with that.

How much does it cost to become a patient?

Great question! Michigan’s program has been around for a while, and the state recently lowered its annual cost to register as a patient to $40. Our evaluations are $150. If someone has proof of hardship (like food stamps, unemployment insurance, or proof of disability) then we will drop our price. We also offer a discount for veterans and run promotions often. If you have a question about affording an appointment with us, just email us at GreenMindPhysicians@gmail.com and we will do our best to work with you.

What Benefits Do I Get As a Medical Patient?

Most dispensaries that have both recreational and medical patients reserve a certain amount of product for medical patients. It’s easier to find things with more CBD (like a 1:1 gummy or even with higher ratios of CBD) and more specialized products like RSO and tinctures. Medical patients typically enjoy an isolated area of the dispensary and cut the line to limit their exposure to other patients in the era of coronavirus.

My favorite thing, of course, is that you can grow plants of your own- up to 12. That’s really generous, and reflects Michigan’s status as a marijuana pioneer in the midwest.

What About the Tax Benefits?

In all states, medical patients receive a waiver on part of the taxes. It’s a really big deal in places like Illinois, where the difference for certain products (like high-THC vape products) can be 40%!!!!

Michigan isn’t that crazy- medical patients will be spared the 10% sales tax, but all medical and rec patients will pay 6% excise tax. So, if you spend about 400$ in marijuana a year, you’ll make up for the cost of your registration by tax savings alone.

What’s Unique About the Program in Michigan?

Well, in general, Michigan has more in common with other newly-legalized midwest states than in mountain or west-coast states. The weed is still expensive and the dispensaries are tightly regulated. Taxes are high too.

The first thing in Michigan that stands out is delivery- other midwest states aren’t even close to doing that yet. I’d say the caregiver program is quite unique as well, especially being able to grow for other people- that’s quite unusual for a state that isn’t California or Oregon.

What is the Caregiver Program?

The caregiver program is fairly unique to Michigan. A caregiver is someone that is 21+, has no prior felonies, and takes on up to 5 patients that are registered as Michigan medical marijuana patients. A caregiver and patient must register their relationship online.

A caregiver can cultivate marijuana plants on behalf of a client- that’s the big draw in Michigan. Caregivers can also pick up product from dispensaries, but that’s not too unique.

How Much Can a Caregiver Grow?

A caregiver can grow the marijuana plants of up to five patients- that’s 60 plants total, or 72 if the caregiver is also a patient themselves. There’s rules as to how caregivers can grow their plants, and on the size of the plants as well.

How do I register with a Caregiver ?

It depends on if you’re already a patient or not! There’s a $25 fee to register with a caregiver in the state of Michigan.

If you’re a new patient, or your registration is about to expire (within 60 days), you’ll have to submit a Complete Application Packet through Michigan’s website.

If you’re already a patient, then you’ll use the Add/Change caregiver form on the website

What’s the situation with Recreational Dispensaries in Michigan?

Very interesting question! This is a really good example of politics and marijuana intersecting. Earlier in 2020, recreational marijuana passed, but no dispensaries opened- a lot of towns in Michigan opted out of allowing them.

They all had their reasons, but Detroit had a special one, stating that they would not allow recreational dispensaries to open unless they addressed the social equity issue. Meaning: local, non-white people need to benefit from this. We can’t just be having out of state businesses making all the money. Detroit created rules that mandated that half of permits go to “legacy” Detroit-ers, and rules that benefitted black and poor applicants.

I could go on about this forever, but this is the way it is supposed to be. Marijuana and the war on drugs have a lot to answer for in America. And this is how we start!

Dr. Lee