Michigan regulators announced several changes to the rules governing the state’s medicinal cannabis program on Wednesday, including one provision that will reduce the fees for medical marijuana identification cards. Andrew Brisbo, the executive director of the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency, said that regulators had improved the efficiency of administering the program.

“Our team has worked hard over the last year to streamline the process for Michigan’s medical marijuana cardholders,” said Brisbo. “Not only have we lowered the costs, but we’ve made it significantly easier for patients to apply for – and receive – their registry cards.”

The new rules, which have been under consideration since February and went into effect on Wednesday, reduce the application fee for medical marijuana cards by 33% and eliminate other fees associated with the program. Initial application fees for medical marijuana identification cards will be reduced from $60 to $40. A $10 fee charged to process renewals, name and address changes, add or remove a caregiver, or order a replacement card has been scrapped. Also eliminated was a $25 fee for criminal background checks for caregivers.

The changes also increase the renewal period for medical marijuana identification cards from 60 to 90 days before expiration and add email as a method for patients, caregivers, and physicians to communicate with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program.

Online Services Also Added

Additionally, applicants for medical marijuana identification cards will be permitted to use an email verifying their approval as patients with temporary identification cards. The email will be valid to purchase cannabis at licensed dispensaries beginning the same day as approval until the permanent card is received by the patient or for up to 15 days.

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency also recently upgraded its services to include online processing of applications from patients wishing to participate in the state’s medical marijuana program. To use the new service, the patient’s physician must have an online account with the agency. Patients must also create an account and submit an online application.

Michigan voters authorized the medicinal use of marijuana in November, 2008. As of June 30, there were 283,770 patients registered in the state’s medical marijuana program and 39,500 registered caregivers.

Recreational Pot Coming to Michigan Next Year

Also this week, the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency announced that it would begin accepting applications on Friday from businesses interested in participating in the state’s recreational cannabis market, which was approved by voters last year. Businesses already licensed to operate under Michigan’s medical marijuana program will be approved first. However, even if the first adult-use licenses are issued as early as late November as anticipated, it will still be months before the first harvests of recreational marijuana hit dispensary shelves.

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