Charting the Course – Examining Michigan’s Cannabis Regulations | 12.14.23 | Policy Matters

Charting the Course – Examining Michigan’s Cannabis Regulations | 12.14.23 | Policy Matters

Brian Hanna’s Regulatory Odyssey: A Unique Insight

Welcome to the third edition of our groundbreaking Policy Matters series, an in-depth exploration into the intricate world of cannabis regulation. As we continue this journey of discovery, having unraveled the insights of Will Tilburg from the Maryland Cannabis Administration in September and delved into the perspectives of John Hudak, Director of the Maine Office of Cannabis Policy in October, we are thrilled to round off December with another influential figure. This edition promised a fresh perspective on the policies and people steering the cannabis industry.

Unconventional Path to Cannabis Regulation & Compassionate Commitment to Industry

Brian Hanna’s path to cannabis regulation wasn’t your typical journey. A certified police officer and military veteran, Hanna currently leads Michigan’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency, having previously served over 4 years as the Inspections/Investigations Manager for the Marijuana Regulatory Agency at the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Throughout this time, his commitment to supporting the cannabis industry, especially those dealing with PTSD, has been the driving force. His background brings a distinctive blend of discipline and compassion to the table, establishing the tone for the agency’s approach.

Industry Challenges: A Complex Dance

Hanna dove into the challenges faced by businesses in the cannabis sector, shedding light on the complexities of receiverships, 280E issues, and price compression. The specter of federal regulations looms large, impacting the industry in ways that demand innovative solutions and resilience.

Collaborative Wisdom: Learning from Others

The Michigan CRA understands the power of shared experiences. Hanna underscored the importance of learning from other states, especially in navigating challenges like receiverships. Collaborating with organizations like the Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA) opens doors to insights and solutions that transcend state borders. In the spirit of collaboration, Hanna emphasized the significance of open dialogue among states. Organizations like CANNRA provide a platform for sharing information and experiences, fostering a collective understanding of regulatory challenges. This collaborative ethos is a cornerstone of effective cannabis regulation.

Dialogues and Enforcement: Safeguarding the Market

Consumer safety takes center stage for the CRA. Hanna detailed the agency’s current priorities, focusing on addressing illicit materials infiltrating the regulated market and staunchly combating lab shopping. It’s a testament to the commitment to maintaining the integrity of the cannabis market. One standout initiative is the plan to establish a reference laboratory. This forward-thinking move aims to expedite investigations into illicit materials and standardize testing methods. The CRA is not merely reacting to challenges but proactively shaping the regulatory landscape.

Education for Responsible and Inclusive Industry Growth

In balancing enforcement with education, the CRA is committed to fostering understanding. Educational sessions for stakeholders reflect a dedication to promoting compliance and industry-wide understanding, ensuring a responsible and informed cannabis community. Highlighting the agency’s commitment to social responsibility, Hanna outlined details of the recently released Social Equity Grant program. This initiative extends support to existing businesses, prioritizing employee education, addressing business needs, and investing in community development.

Technical Insights: Testing Standards and More

Beyond the key takeaways, Hanna delved into the technical aspects of testing methods. Standardization and a round-robin style testing approach showcase the agency’s commitment to accuracy and reliability. Coordination with regulatory agencies and reference laboratories paints a picture of a desired end state – an industry-wide standardization of testing methods.

Transparent Accountability: Disciplinary Actions

The delicate balance between enforcement and education is an ongoing challenge. Warning letters and transparent disciplinary actions, totaling over 580 in a specific year, underscore the agency’s commitment to accountability without stifling growth. Hanna’s vision for the agency extends beyond regulations. Stakeholder engagement, transparency, admitting mistakes, and open communication form the pillars of a lasting legacy. Municipality summits further solidify relationships, fostering open dialogue with local authorities.

Collective Learning: Navigating Uncharted Waters

Key concerns like impaired driving find a place in Hanna’s discourse. The agency is actively funding programs to educate the public about the risks associated with impaired driving. Plans for a reference laboratory also address concerns like potency inflation and non-transparent practices. Acknowledging the challenges inherent in navigating uncharted regulatory territory, Hanna emphasizes the importance of collective learning. Transparent dialogues and collaboration emerge as the guiding principles for moving the cannabis industry forward.

A Model for Responsible Regulation

In a world where cannabis regulation is a complex dance between federal and state considerations, Brian Hanna’s insights provide a beacon of clarity. Michigan’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency, under his leadership, stands as a model for transparency, stakeholder engagement, and an unwavering commitment to evolving alongside the cannabis industry. As the industry continues to evolve, the lessons from Michigan’s regulatory journey offer a roadmap for other states and jurisdictions seeking effective cannabis governance. The journey is ongoing, but with leaders like Brian Hanna, the path forward is one of collaboration, education, and responsible regulation.

Watch the Full Conversation on NCIA’s YouTube Channel:

While this blog captures key highlights from Brian Hanna’s insightful discussion, the depth and nuances of his perspectives truly come alive in the full video on NCIA’s YouTube channel. Immerse yourself in the comprehensive dialogue as Brian shares invaluable insights, offering a unique lens into Michigan’s regulatory journey.

Looking Ahead: The Stakeholder Summit Series

In closing the third edition of Policy Matters, we extend our heartfelt appreciation to Brian Hanna for sharing invaluable perspectives on Michigan’s regulatory journey. Special thanks to NCIA Policy Co-Chairs Khurshid Khoja and Michael Cooper for their adept guidance, enriching our Policy Matters series. Their role in curating these dialogues adds an unparalleled depth to these exploration of cannabis policies. As we eagerly await January’s edition, featuring yet another luminary in the cannabis space, we thank you for being an integral part of our Policy Matters series.

Looking ahead to 2024, immerse yourself in the upcoming NCIA Stakeholder Summit Series—an opportunity to shape the cannabis industry’s future. Engage in dynamic discussions with industry leaders, elected officials, policymakers, and regulators. Your voice, representing Main Street cannabis operators, is pivotal in influencing cannabis policy.

For NCIA members, seize exclusive benefits with 2, 5, or 10 complimentary tickets based on your membership level. Not a member? Secure your spot at a special early bird rate until December 31st—don’t miss this chance to actively contribute to transformative cannabis conversations.

Join us, and let’s collectively navigate the dynamic landscape of the cannabis industry. Your insights are invaluable, and your participation ensures the inclusive and influential impact of the Stakeholder Summit Series.

Learn More & Register Now

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