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Cannabis experts urge patients to keep medical status after legalization

Cannabis experts are urging patients to keep their medical status even after legalization in Michigan. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Pot is legal now in Michigan, but that doesn't mean a medical marijuana card is no longer valuable.

Michigan has about 300,000 medical marijuana patients, making it the second largest registry in the nation behind California.

That's according to the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation.

Cannabis experts, like Rick Thompson, are urging medical patients to keep their status.

"There are a lot of advantages," Thompson said.

For starters, Thompson said the legalization program only covers those who are 21 and older.

Those under the legal, who are prescribed cannabis by their physician, still must have a card to acquire it.

"You also have advantages in employment situations, where some employers recognize how a medical necessity exists, as opposed to recreational use," he added.

From employment to housing to school admissions, Thompson said the identification will continue to make an immediate difference, along with provide future benefits.

"Once the legalization businesses come around in 2020, the medical marijuana tax goes away," he said. "So medical marijuana patients won't pay any tax, but the recreational market will pay 10 percent."

Thompson said the cultivation limit is also different.

Under the legalization, you can only have 12 plants at your primary residence.

With the medical program, if there are two or more qualified patients at the same location, he said they can grow 12, 24 or 36 plants.

However, he said the plants must be separated within the residence.

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