Recreational pot in Michigan: 6 things to know as state prepares for licenses – Detroit Free Press

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Companies are ramping up production of marijuana-infused edibles to fuel both the medical marijuana market and the upcoming recreational pot business. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau

Another milestone for legal weed happened this week when the state released the rules and regulations that will govern the recreational marijuana market in Michigan.

Michigan voters approved legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use in November 2018 and the use, possession and growing of up to 12 cannabis plants individualy officially became legal on Dec. 6. But pot is still only commercially available for sale to the 287,094 Michiganders who have qualified for medical marijuana cards.

While the rules released by the Michigan Regulatory Agency deal primarily with the business side of the industry, here is what they mean for the average marijuana consumer:

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How soon can I buy marijuana?

The state will begin accepting applications for recreational business licenses on Nov. 1 and expects to award licenses later in that month.

That means that some marijuana retail stores will be open for business before the end of the year. But don’t expect a pot shop on every corner anytime soon. It will take a while for the market to establish itself.

Who can buy marijuana?

At recreational marijuana retail stores, anyone over 21 can purchase legal weed and you’ll have to prove that you’re old enough with some form of state identification.

At medical marijuana dispensaries, there are no age limits on people who can buy pot, as long as they have a qualifying illness, such as cancer, PTSD, epilepsy or chronic pain, and have gotten a medical marijuana card from the state. While the state doesn’t release demographic statistics on medical cardholders, other than the county where they live, there are children who have qualified to use marijuana products, especially those with seizure disorders.

For a complete list of illnesses and disorders that qualify for a medical marijuana card, go to: https://tinyurl.com/y59jhouh. 

Also read: Yes, her name really is Marijuana Pepsi, and now she’s Dr. Marijuana Pepsi to you

Can I buy medical and recreational pot at the same shops?

Yes. Shops with medical marijuana licenses will be the first to qualify for recreational licenses. But the retail stores will have to separate medical and recreational products.

The two categories will be taxed differently. Both are subject to the state’s 6% sales tax, but recreational marijuana will also carry a 10% excise tax while medical marijuana has no excise tax.

And there may be different potency standards for the two categories of pot. Currently, medical marijuana has a potency limit of 50 milligrams of THC — tetrahydrocannabinol or the element that provides the “high” for users — per serving of edible product, such as gummies, chocolate bars or mints. In other states, such as Colorado, recreational marijuana has a potency limit of 10 milligrams of THC per serving and Andrew Brisbo, director of the MRA, said those limits for recreational pot will be set soon.

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In which communities can I buy marijuana?

That depends on communities, which have the ability to say yea or nay to marijuana businesses. Currently, about 506 communities have said they don’t want pot businesses in their towns. But officials in some of those municipalities have also said they were waiting for the state to release the rules for the market before making a final determination.

For a list of communities that have voted to ban marijuana businesses, go to https://tinyurl.com/y6gjt3lr.

Residents have the chance to reverse those decisions made by city officials by gathering signatures of registered voters that represent 5% of the vote cast in that city for governor in 2018. If the signatures are valid, a question on allowing marijuana businesses into the town can be put on the ballot for the next election. 

If a community has given the thumb’s up to legal weed, retail stores will probably soon come. And the state also will allow for special licenses for marijuana-themed events, such as the Cannabis Cup competitions, which have been held, but not sanctioned by the state. Marijuana will be able to be sold and used at those events.

Where will I be able to use pot?

Your home is your castle. You can grow and use marijuana there, unless, of course, you have a landlord who bans smoking or growing pot in your rental. The answer then would be edibles or other non-smokable forms of marijuana.

While there is no public consumption of pot, such as walking down the street or in the grocery story, the new rules allow for the licensing of public social clubs, where people at least 21 can gather and smoke a bowl, vape, or eat an edible. Those clubs must get approval from their local communities and the businesses will NOT be able to sell pot or any other products, such as drinks or snacks. It will be a strictly BYOM, although retail marijuana shops will be able to offer delivery services of marijuana to homes or to social clubs.

How easy will it be to get a pot license?

It’ll be easier with these new rules. Under state law designed to ensure that the businesses would succeed, medical marijuana applicants had to prove that they had assets worth $150,000 to $500,000, depending on the license, to qualify for the industry.

But the recreational market rules don’t have any capitalization requirements, which state officials believe will open up the market to people who haven’t been able to qualify, so far, for a license.

Application fees for both the state ($6,000) and local communities ($5,000), as well as regulatory assessments of $66,000 are charged for medical marijuana licenses. The comparable regulatory assessments for the recreational market will be based on a tiered systems, with larger businesses being charged more and smaller companies less. That fee schedule will come out later this year.

And a smaller business license – for micro-businesses, which can grow up to 150 plants, process and sell the product at one facility – is geared toward people who have been growing marijuana for medical patients, but haven’t had enough capital to qualify for a medical marijuana dispensary license.

Kathleen Gray covers the marijuana industry for the Detroit Free Press. Contact her: 313-223-4430, kgray99@freepress.com or on Twitter @michpoligal.

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