The state of Michigan is expanding the eligibility to apply for cannabis growing, processing, and selling licenses in an effort to minimize the illegal market for marijuana.
The Marijuana Regulatory Agency will begin accepting applications from any applicant under the authority of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act beginning March 1, 2021. Previously, applications were only accepted from entities that had legal previous cannabis experience, such as those in the medical marijuana industry.
The agency began accepting applications from those with previous experience for licensure under the act on Nov. 1, 2019. Eligibility for licensure under the act is restricted under Section 9(6) of the act for 24 months after act began accepting applications for class A growers, microbusinesses, retailers, processors, class B and C growers, and secure transporters.
One year after the agency began to accept applications for licensure under the act, it will begin accepting applications from any applicant for licensure as a marijuana retailer, marijuana processor, class B or C marijuana grower, or marijuana secure transporter if the agency determines that additional state licenses are necessary to minimize the illegal market in the state, meet the demand for marijuana, or provide access to marijuana in rural areas.
As the commercial marijuana market in the state grows, the impact of the illicit market remains a primary concern, according to the state. Illegal products are not grown or processed under conditions required in the regulated market or tested by state licensed safety compliance facilities for harmful contaminants.
According to the Michigan State Police’s Marijuana Tobacco Investigation Section, 83 percent of the seizures of illicit marijuana plants and products occur in municipalities that do not have regulated marijuana establishments. In the past year, the city of Detroit has seen a 36 percent increase in narcotics-related homicides and a 214 percent increase in specifically marijuana-related non-fatal shootings.
The state says that as municipalities consider ordinances to allow marijuana establishments, the current eligibility restriction acts as a barrier to approaching local authorization in a way that is equitable. It also says greater municipal participation is a critical element in reducing the impact of the illicit market.
For more information on the cannabis industry in Michigan, check out DBusiness’ November/December 2019 cover story.