Earlier this year, Michigan regulators decided that their hemp industry should be mostly kept under wraps. Citing privacy concerns, regulators have chosen not to share any license holder information, be it location or even trade name. However, it’s beginning to appear that these well-meaning measures could have an adverse effect on the nascent industry.
In early 2019, Michigan’s Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act came into effect. Because it’s tied to the 2018 Farm Bill, both the Act and the industry it intends to control are still very much in their infancy. Currently, emergency rules are in place as the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) creates a full-fledged regulatory scheme with the US Department of Agriculture’s blessing.
During this regulatory planning process, state lawmakers also decided to withhold hemp farmer and processor applicant information, and make all license holders’ information exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests. This move was done mostly to protect farmers’ safety, because under the 2018 Farm Bill, farmers were already required to provide their GPS coordinates to the USDA.
In addition, lawmakers noted that a crop of hemp is more exposed to vandalism or other malicious acts as it is more likely to be grown in large outdoor fields, unlike marijuana which is often grown indoors in highly secured facilities. However, to contrast, Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency provides licensing information—including location—of license holders in the state’s medical marijuana industry.
Though well-intentioned, this unique quirk of the Michigan hemp industry could stifle business. Hemp regulators have basically created an anonymous industry where nobody knows who is participating, nor where. As a potentially lucrative industry in a state oft-cited as having the largest marijuana market second only to California, the creation of business contacts is important.
Some hemp farmers are also worried that because hemp will likely be grown outdoors, it’s important for each farmer to understand where his/her grow site may be in relation to another’s. Cross-pollination is not ideal for a new industry that must meet strict standards under both state and federal law.
The government may not be willing to share, but there is nothing really stopping private action by those within the industry. As such, there is talk about a possible voluntary database where hemp license holders may choose to disclose things such as trade names, location, or contact information.
But some within the hemp industry feel that this information should be disclosed to other cultivators at most, and not the public. While logical and keeping within the state’s safety-first approach, it still presents a barrier for some who may want to be found by non-cultivators or other post-processing businesses that orbit the industry.
For some who may have never grown a process-friendly and usable crop such as hemp, disclosing this information would be quite the business leg-up to be reachable by outsiders.
The solution to this problem is the Cannabiz Media License Database, which provides the most current and accurate information about cannabis and hemp license holders in the United States and international markets. License holders nationwide are already using the License Database to connect with other licensees, including hemp license holders in Michigan.
Schedule a demo of the Cannabiz Media License Database today to see how it can help you make critical business connections.
Juliana Minn is a Data Analyst at Cannabiz Media, where she researches cannabis licenses and policies across several states. A graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School, Juliana focused on intellectual property law and small business law, enabling her to advise numerous fledgling businesses throughout law school and to the present day. When she’s not geeking out over the finer points of the Copyright Act or commercial cannabis licensing data, she can be found taking on pro bono legal work at Lewis & Clark’s Small Business Legal Clinic.