Recently, officials with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) held a private meeting with 57 stakeholders.
In case you didn’t read the title of this post, determining rules for regulating recreational marijuana sales in Michigan.
The group included medical marijuana businesses, lawyers, municipal representatives and interested individuals willing to give their feedback.
Attendees say that the officials didn’t cue them in on rules they were considering at this point. They simply wanted input.
Time Is of the Essence
Historically, LARA has been monumentally slow in matters of procedure. That’s not a dig. Just a fact.
But the attendees of the meeting felt that LARA was going to act swiftly and quickly – predicting the likelihood of seeing rules taking shape in the next three months.
And that’s good.
Because even though voters legalized recreational marijuana over five months ago, there can be no retail sales of it until the rules are in place.
The deadline, by state law, is this December. But the expectation is there will be drafts done by June.
The Rules for Regulating Recreational Marijuana in Michigan Are Crucial
Before any license applications can be accepted, the state needs to set these rules.
And for at least the first year of the adult-use (i.e. recreational) marijuana program, most licenses will likely be issued to businesses that already have a medical marijuana license.
What does that mean?
In a nutshell, it means that medical marijuana provisioning centers may also be able to sell to anyone over the age of 21. And how that’ll work is important to provisioning centers.
Many provisioning centers are adamant that they didn’t want to have a separate entrance way or counters for those using marijuana recreationally. Rather, they would prefer a point-of-sale system that would record whether the customer was a patient or a recreational user.
This is the sort of input that the officials at LARA need. And it’s not exclusive to the concerns of provisioning centers.
Concerns from Municipal Leaders
Municipal leaders are seeking guidance and clear interpretations of the law from state officials. Especially when it comes to changing rules.
Cindy Berry is the elect clerk in Chesterfield Township. ”Overwhelmingly, all of the municipalities are looking for some kind of support for whatever we intend to implement at a local level,” she says. “We’re looking for support from the state to be able to have some teeth in that.”
Municipal leaders would also like for the state officials to back up local ordinances and to see the implementation of objective licensing programs.
“We would like to see rules that help us in that process and allow us to have similar zoning for both types,” says Adrian City Attorney Tamaris Henagan. “And we also wanted to impart on the state that we need strong partnerships with municipalities — not that the state has not assisted us, but there’s differences or maybe a lack of communication between the state and the municipalities as we’ve all been through this process for the past year or so.”
In addition, some communities have concerns if adult-use marijuana sales are too highly regulated, it will lead marijuana businesses to fail and, in turn, leave empty storefronts in their community.
Looking At New Rules for Testing
Of course, processors have concerns as well. And of late, proposed testing laws have made things even dicier.
Ben Rosman of PSI Labs would like to be able to hire someone to their staff that has some serious technical chemistry chops. He’d also like the to see the state add some more acceptable pesticides, as well as regularly meet with testing labs to determine what’s working and what’s not working.
Now the rules only seem to change when lobbying is involved.
“A lot of that (change) has come from us nudging and pushing and lobbying,” Rosman says. “I started this coalition of testing labs. A big part of that is so we would have a unified voice in pushing them harder.”
There Is Much to Determine
State officials have their work cut out for them. And hopefully they will learn from the mistakes other states made in this process.
As a cannabis business owner, you can only offer your input and hope that state officials are listening. But what you DO have control over is your marketing strategy.
So while you’re waiting for the state to establish rules for regulating recreational marijuana sales in Michigan, contact us to ensure that your marketing is up to snuff.
Make the transition easy on yourself.