The Michigan medical cannabis market should be further along than it is, according to the state’s Governor. Dissatisfied with the progress made in licensing medical cannabis businesses in the state, Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently signed an executive order to disassemble the board responsible for the decision making process.
“This executive order will eliminate inefficiencies that have made it difficult to meet the needs of Michigan’s medical marijuana patients,” Whitmer said.
The board, made up of volunteers, was not able to approve or deny medical marijuana business license applications within a reasonable time frame, so Gov. Whitmer took it upon herself to make a change. Gov. Whitmer’s executive order is supported by leaders in the state Legislature as well as former director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Shelly Edgerton.
“The volunteer board took on a monumental lift to get this program going, but in the short time frame the program has been running, we have not seen the expected volume of licensees entering the market,” Edgerton said. “With this executive order, the licensing process will be more efficient and allow more applicants into the space.”
The volunteer board was only able to approve 121 medical cannabis businesses since they began considering applications in July. Of the 121, only 105 businesses have paid their fees to be able to operate legally.
Only the following number of medical marijuana businesses have been fully approved to operate in Michigan:
- 31 Cultivators
- 54 Dispensaries
- 11 Processors
- 4 Testing labs
- 5 Transporters
The Marijuana Regulatory Agency
To replace the board of volunteers, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency was created. A new branch within the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency will be responsible for awarding licenses to medical cannabis businesses as of April 30. Once the regulations are established for the recreational market, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency will license recreational businesses as well.
“All elements of this Agency have been designed to serve and better protect Michigan residents, and I’m eager to have a unified effort across state departments to make sure this process runs effectively and efficiently,” said Whitmer.
Michigan voters approved a ballot measure legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes in November 2018. Recreational sales are not expected to begin until 2020 because the state needs to establish a framework for licensing and regulations first.