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The Path Forward




Michigan’s deadline for its recreational cannabis business license application period is quickly approaching, and authorities plan on crafting the state’s recreational regulations in a way that will mirror its medical regulations. The Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA), which falls underneath the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) issued emergency rules on July 3, which outline the terms of implementing the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act. The emergency rules are designed to help medical businesses decide if they want to enter into the recreational market, and to help them prepare.

Authorities will begin accepting cannabis business license applications on Nov. 1. As far as sales, that could begin as soon as early 2020, and no later than March 2020. Local governments in Michigan have until then to make a decision on whether or not they want to opt in to the recreational cannabis market, before the application process begins. Once Nov. 1 arrives, they’ll be out of time. So far, around 600 communities in the state have already taken preemptive steps to block recreational sales, meaning about 4.7 million Michigan residents live in towns that ban recreational cannabis sales. Unfortunately, the emergency rules only apply to existing medical businesses until 2021, when the application process opens up for everyone else.

The emergency rules were generated to help prospective license applicants get their requirements and paperwork in order. “We appreciate the hard work staff at the Marijuana Regulatory Agency put in to quickly develop these draft rules so that Michigan can get its adult-use cannabis program online as soon as possible,” Josh Hovey, spokesperson for the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, told CULTURE. “At first glance, we believe these rules are well thought out and forward-thinking.”

Hovey formerly served as communications director for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which successfully legalized cannabis for adults in Michigan, and he’s pleased that rules and regulations are beginning to move forward. “We particularly like that there are no capitalization requirements, which should help make licenses more accessible to small business owners,” Hovey added. “The newly created Excess Grower License will help address the product shortage issue that we’ve been experiencing in the medical marijuana market.”

“We appreciate the hard work staff at the Marijuana Regulatory Agency put in to quickly develop these draft rules so that Michigan can get its adult-use cannabis program online as soon as possible.”


Hovey pointed out that there is a strong demand in Michigan for on-site consumption and cannabis-friendly special events, so he’s happy that there will be licensing available for businesses that cater to those needs. The reparation provisions are an added bonus. “And the fact that licensees will be required to submit social equity plans that detail how they plan on making their business inclusive to people disproportionately impacted by prohibition should help encourage a more diverse industry in Michigan,” he pointed out.

It’s one of the MRA’s first major steps toward stabilizing the market. LARA spokesperson David Harns provided CULTURE with a statement on behalf of the MRA. “The release of the rules provided local municipalities and prospective licensees with information to decide to what extent they want to participate in this new industry,” MRA Executive Director Andrew Brisbo stated. “Since we plan to start taking business applications Nov 1, stakeholders will have four months to evaluate these rules and make their decisions. These rules set Michigan’s marijuana industry on a path for success while ensuring safety for marijuana consumers.” The new announcement from Brisbo and his team at the MRA suggests that they are serious about providing a reasonable pathway to recreational licensing.