The registered medical marijuana caregivers in Michigan are authorized to grow more than a million cannabis plants, according to state statistics. This information is crucial as the state transitions from a purely medical cannabis program to one that embraces the recreational use of the drug by adults.
Even if the state accelerates the process by which new commercial growers are licensed, it is unlikely that any of those licensees will have harvested, processed and distributed their marijuana crop at the time recreational sales are launched.
In August 2017, Andrew Brisbo, the Director of the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation stated that approximately 43,000 patients had nominated a caregiver to grow a maximum of 12 cannabis plants for the medical use of the patient.
That statistic means that approximately 1.14 million marijuana plants are under the direct control of the registered caregivers in the state.
Currently, the number of caregivers on the medical marijuana program has risen to an estimated 47,000. This could mean that nearly 1.5 million cannabis plants are grown by these caregivers.
To put this figure in context, the 78 commercial cultivators with state-issued licenses have a 108,000 plant cultivation limit.
All the existing large scale growers and the caregivers currently supply the medical marijuana market whose current patient population stands at 300,000 (Michigan has the second strongest medical marijuana market in the country).
If recreational users come on board, the number of medical marijuana patients will be dwarfed by the number of adults who use cannabis recreationally. Statistics suggest that at least 1.54 million Michigan adults have used recreational marijuana at some point in their lives, so once recreational sales begin, the number of recreational users is likely to be five times that of medical marijuana users.
This means that Michigan could face the same supply shortages that have been witnessed in the states that transition from just medical marijuana markets to recreational cannabis as well. Such supply shortages normally trigger a frenzied expansion of cultivation capacity, which in turn causes a glut once all that extra marijuana finally enters the market.
To prevent the nosedive in prices which results from the glut, Michigan would be well advised to incorporate the caregiver-grown marijuana in the recreational market as well so that the recreational market is kept stable during its first months. This shouldn’t present any quality issues since the caregivers have been supplying the medical cannabis market of the state for years.
Analysts hope that the cannabis industry’s major players in Michigan and elsewhere, such as Youngevity International Inc. (NASDAQ: YGYI) and Willow Biosciences Corp. (CSE: WLLW), will welcome the caregivers whose role provides all-round benefits to all concerned.
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