With most communities opted out, Michigan to begin accepting recreational marijuana licenses Friday – Crain's Detroit Business


As Michigan gears up to begin accepting applications Friday for recreational marijuana businesses, questions about adult-use cannabis linger.

The state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency doesn’t yet have a grasp on the level of demand for licenses. While entrepreneurs and business owners have been eager to enter the industry, nearly 70 percent of all communities in the state have opted out of allowing recreational marijuana businesses within their borders, at least for now.

“We truly don’t know what to expect Friday,” said David Harns, spokesman for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which oversees the MRA. “We’re prepared to handle whatever comes our way.”

Michigan voters legalized marijuana last November, and the law went into effect the following month. Under the legislation, there are no limits on how many recreational marijuana business licenses the state can issue, Harns said. The only limits are set by local ordinances.

As of Oct. 25, 1,201 of Michigan’s 1,773 cities, townships and other municipalities have opted out. Because they can opt in and out whenever they choose, many communities are taking a “wait and see” approach.

“If we receive an application, and a local community does not have a prohibitive ordinance in place on the day we receive it, then we will issue a license to that applicant if they meet all the other criteria,” Harns said.

Whether cities have the right to change their stance and order businesses to close is one of many legal gray areas forming around the industry. Law firms are beefing up marijuana-related services in response to those uncertainties.

The city of Detroit, for example, is considering opting out temporarily until it enacts an ordinance that would benefit residents and those hurt by past marijuana crackdowns. The ordinance, being drafted by Councilman James Tate, piggybacks off the state’s social equity program, which provides discounts on license fees for those with marijuana convictions, people living in disproportionately impacted areas and marijuana caregivers.

A public hearing regarding Detroit’s proposed ordinance is scheduled for Monday.

Another big question is when recreational marijuana will go on sale. Harns said the state expects the first recreational license to be issued around the end of November. They will first be granted to those who also have medical marijuana licenses because they have already been vetted and can be streamlined.

However, recreational marijuana might not hit shelves until the spring, the Detroit Free Press reported. Medical and recreational marijuana are regulated separately. Until the first licenses are issued, recreational marijuana cannot legally be grown, meaning the first recreational harvest is still months away.

Harns said there is a “mechanism in the rules” that would let the state allow business owners to transfer product from medical use to recreational use. There are no plans to do that, but “that could change at any time,” he said.

More details on adult-use marijuana and applications can be found on the state LARA and Marijuana Regulatory Agency websites.

This article originally appeared here in https://www.crainsdetroit.com/marijuana/most-communities-opted-out-michigan-begin-accepting-recreational-marijuana-licenses

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