Governor Whitmer is abolishing the board that approves or denies medical marijuana licenses in Michigan. In its place will be a new board – called the Marijuana Regulatory Agency – which will oversee applications from both recreational and medical marijuana license applications. The new board will go into effect on April 30, 2019.
What Did the Old Marijuana Board Do?
Previous to Michigan voters approving the sale and use of recreational marijuana, the board oversaw the applications for medical marijuana licenses. The board began its work last July, and approved 121 licenses altogether. Of the 121, 105 are operating. These operating licenses are 4 safety compliance facilities, 5 secure transporters, 11 processors, 31 grow operations, and 54 provisioning centers (dispensaries).
Why the Change to the New Marijuana Regulatory Agency?
The old board had some issues approving or denying licenses in a timely manner. The licensing deadline has been pushed back many times since July 2018. This was the deadline set for currently operating dispensaries to become licensed or shutdown. The extensions were necessary because licenses were not being processed fast enough. Currently, there are an estimated 60 dispensaries operating without a license.
Marijuana Landscape Changes From Medical to Recreational
On top of the delays for getting licenses out, Michigan voters decided to approve the sale and use of medical marijuana. This means the state would have to process licenses from recreational marijuana in addition to medical marijuana. Both legal frameworks for medical and recreational will still exist moving forward.
However, the recreational market will be sure to add to the number of businesses hoping to get licenses. This made it necessary to create a governmental body to handle those applications.
The law that created the medical marijuana legal framework was designed with the future in mind to transition to the likely legal marijuana use and sales that seemed inevitable. We will probably see legal marijuana sold from retail stores in early 2020.
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Sam Bernstein is an Ann Arbor Attorney focusing on marijuana law and criminal defense.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.