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The wait is finally over. The first batch of permanent licenses for medical cannabis businesses in Michigan was approved by the state’s Medical Marihuana Licensing Board (MMLB), paving the way for business growth without the worry of compliance issues.

On July 13, four businesses were awarded seven various types of licenses. Only one provisioning center received a license. VB Chesaning, LLC was awarded four Class C cultivations licenses, Capital Transport, LLC was awarded a secure transporter license, Cannarbor, Inc was awarded a provisioning center license and Arbor Kitchen, LLC was awarded a processor license.

“The MMLB has issued seven licenses to four different licensees,” Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Spokesperson David Harns told CULTURE in a statement. “One licensee received four stacked grower licenses.” Since each Class C cultivation license authorizes up to 1,500 plants, by stacking four, VB Chesaning could grow as many as 6,000 plants. Representatives from VB Chesaning did not respond to CULTURE for comment.

The state also granted preliminary approval to 16 businesses, which are still in the process of receiving final approval. One of those businesses, Green Peak Innovations, has ambitious plans to obtain licenses for a dozen cultivation facilities, a processing facility and 19 provisioning centers. Green Peak Innovations’ eyes are set on the Harvest Park industrial area in Windsor Township, which is set to become a medical cannabis mecca. As of mid-July, the board received 594 applications, and only 54 had been processed.

The competition, as usual, was fierce. In making the decisions to approve or deny businesses, a long list of criteria was taken into consideration by the MMLB. According to Harns, the MMLB looked at “the integrity, moral character and reputation” of businesses, as well as if they’ve passed several regulatory hurdles. Those hurdles include liability, no bankruptcies in the last seven years, tax requirements, compliance requirements and providing a criminal background check.

“The Medical Marihuana Licensing Board has issued seven licenses to four different licensees. One licensee received four stacked grower licenses.”

 

Many other businesses were denied, including 14 applications during the latest batch of approvals. According to local reports, MMLB board member and former police officer Don Bailey denied some of those applicants for cannabis-related arrests as old as 1969. In addition, having a dismissed cannabis charge could still disqualify applicants from receiving a license.

The process still isn’t completely over. While it’s great news to hear about seven licenses being completed, those businesses will still remain in “regulatory limbo,” until a testing facility can be approved.

If the seven licensees wait to pay the $48,000 fee to complete licensure, they could operate under Michigan’s existing emergency rules until a lab has opened. Once the fee is paid, however, all testing requirements automatically go into effect.

This offers yet another temporary solution to clear the regulatory gaps that have defined the medical cannabis community in Michigan during the last few years. Overall, the news is positive despite flaws in the approval process. The next MMLB meeting is scheduled for Aug. 9. LARA addressed the issue of the absence of labs, and according to Harns, a lab could be licensed as early as Aug. 15.

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