When Michigan voters approved medical marijuana in 2008, provisions were made for individuals to serve as “caregivers,” people who could grow cannabis for patients who could not grow it themselves.
Caregivers are legally allowed to grow 72 marijuana plants. The state had allowed caregivers to sell their excess cannabis to the retail market. As recently as January, caregivers provided nearly two-thirds of the marijuana flower available on store shelves.
But Michigan regulators felt it was necessary to phase out caregiver contributions, to spur investment in licensed grow facilities. The phase out began in March.
“One interesting thing we’ve seen over the last several months is that production increasing fairly dramatically,” says Andrew Brisbo, the executive director of the Marijuana Regulatory Agency.
Brisbo says at the beginning of the year, about 110,000 plants were being grown in regulated facilities. But he says as of last week, 424,000 plants were growing in regulated facilities in Michigan.
Brisbo says the phase out has not affected retail marijuana prices or supply.
Since recreational marijuana sales started in December, 2019, the number of state licensed caregivers has declined (from 37,875 in October of 2019 to 31,521 in September of 2020) as has the number Michiganders registered with the state as medical marijuana patients (from 277,000 to 244,000).