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DETROIT (AP) — Michigan’s marijuana industry likely won’t face any changes from the federal government, but the state has altered a tax on medical marijuana card holders.

The federal budget passed last week indicated that the government will continue to not enforce federal drug laws in states with legalized medical marijuana, the Detroit Free Press reported .

But Michigan’s Department of Treasury issued a bulletin earlier this year that said it expects medical marijuana card holders to pay a 6 percent tax on purchased products regardless of where it’s sold. Those who use dispensaries to purchase medical marijuana will pay the 6 percent sales tax and a 3 percent excise tax at the dispensary.

The tax will now also apply to patients buying products from a caregiver certified to grow a regulated amount of plants for patients. Patients who currently use a caregiver haven’t paid taxes on the products they’ve purchased since the old medical marijuana law was passed in 2008.

The tax will be an honor system for those patients because they’ll have to claim what they’ve purchased on their annual state tax returns as a use tax, according to Ron Leix, a Treasury Department spokesman. He said it’s impossible to individually notify medical marijuana card holders who use caregivers instead of dispensaries because of medical privacy laws.

“What I like to call this tax is the pass and pretend laws,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “They pass the laws and we pretend that people are going to comply.”

Thompson said a change of this magnitude should be approved by lawmakers, not by a state department or department official.

The tax is the agency’s attempt to level the playing field for medical marijuana customers, said Alex Leonowicz, an attorney in Royal Oak focusing on cannabis law.

“It’s a loophole that needs to be closed. If you don’t put everyone on the same plane, you can have caregivers who can charge less than dispensaries,” he said. “It’s consistent and it’s fair across the board.”


Information from: Detroit Free Press,