This week, the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) released an advisory bulletin relaxing some of the requirements for recreational cannabis licenses. Under the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA), applicants for certain recreational cannabis facility licenses were required to have existing licenses under the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) for 24 months after the MRA began accepting recreational applications. Particularly, that restriction applied to the following recreational cannabis license types:
- Cannabis retailers (i.e. dispensaries);
- Cannabis processors (e.g. facilities manufacturing edibles or cannabis concentrates);
- Class B cannabis growers (500 plants);
- Class C cannabis growers (2,000 plants); and
- Cannabis secure transporters.
The MRTMA grants the MRA the ability to shorten the 24-month period if the MRA determines that additional state licenses are necessary to:
- Minimize the illegal market for cannabis in Michigan;
- Efficiently meet the demand for cannabis; or
- Provide reasonable access to cannabis in rural areas.
On October 6, the MRA cited minimization of the illegal market for cannabis as its reason for shortening the 24-month restrictions. Part of the MRA’s concern is that cannabis products manufactured without licensing may not proceed through the strict testing and safety conditions applied to the regulated market.
The MRA and media have also frequently reported a strong demand for recreational cannabis in Michigan that growers are still struggling to meet. The MRA stated that “[w]here the regulated market is not available to meet consumer demand, the illicit market stands ready to fill that void.”
As an effort to ensure consumers are getting safe products, in addition to minimizing the unregulated cannabis market, the MRA is relaxing the application restrictions for recreational cannabis facility applicants.
The MRA will begin accepting applications from any applicant for recreational facilities on March 1, 2021. This provides an opening for businesses or individuals who have wanted to enter the recreational cannabis industry but have otherwise been shut out because they were not previously licensed under the MMFLA. It should also significantly reduce costs for new recreational applicants because it will no longer be required for them to apply for two licenses to operate certain recreational facilities.