On Nov. 14, Michigan regulators told medical marijuana businesses they could begin transferring half of their inventory over to the recreational market on the first day of December, which means that people over the age of 21 in the Wolverine State should be able to legally purchase cannabis in just a few short weeks.
The setup is a lot different than the legalization launches that have happened in other states over the years. That’s because regulators in Michigan want to make sure the state’s medical marijuana patients continue to have their access needs covered as the priority. The only products that will be allowed to transfer over to the recreational market will be those products that have been sitting on store shelves for a month.
The Detroit Free Press noted this means the marijuana flowers that have already been in short supply for months in Michigan medical dispensaries might not be available when the adult-use marketplace opens, but other products like edibles and vapes should be good to go.
The Marijuana Regulatory Agency’s director Andrew Brisbo thinks things might be a bit tough in the early going. Brisbo spoke on the number of places that will provide access to the almost 10 million people living in Michigan
Brisbo said he “can’t imagine that we’ll have more than a dozen or so” retailers licensed by Dec. 1.
Brisbo thinks parts of the process of the market coming online will be similar to what happened in Michigan’s medical market, especially in inventory levels building up over time.
“As we’ve seen in the medical market, it’s a slow build-out as inventory and production of plants and products increases. We want to provide an environment where businesses can supply the market as quickly as possible,” he said.
Last year, after Michigan voted in favor of adult-use cannabis legalization in the November elections, the governor’s office put us in touch with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to talk shop on what to expect as they built out the nuts and bolts of what legalization would look like. Now, two weeks from sales kicking off, we again spoke with LARA Communications Director David Harns to hear how Michigan got to this landmark.
Harns said it has been great watching the Marijuana Regulatory Agency prepare for this day, “how they plugged away knocking down milestone after milestone,” he told Cannabis Now. “Having the rules all ready to go four months early after taking lots of time to get input from stakeholders across the state.”
Harns said a lot of those stakeholder organizations taking part think Michigan’s rules are probably some of the best rules in the country right off the bat.
Municipalities had four full months to prepare for the transition — after the state released its regulations this July — “and make their decisions as to what level they wanted to participate,” he said.
We asked Harns if LARA had expected so many communities to opt-out, as 79% of the state’s municipalities — including Detroit — decided not to open up for adult-use sales.
“Well, we didn’t know what to expect,” he replied. “We have heard a lot of the municipalities that are opting out are doing it so they can take a little more time and approach it with a longer frame of reference in mind here.”
Some of the communities that initially opted out are already starting to make their way back in the fold now that their local ordinances are ready.
On Dec. 1, those eligible to begin transferring product to the adult-use market will have to jump through a few hoops. Harns said they’ll have to email LARA and prove the product that they are attempting to transfers meets all the requirements necessary for it to qualify.
“Once the product is transferred over, it will be available to anybody in Michigan. They won’t need a medical ID card. They’ll just have to be 21 or over and show their proof of age,” Harns said. “And off they go.”
TELL US, are you excited for cannabis sales to begin in Michigan?