Recreational Marijuana Applications Now Being Accepted


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Michigan legalized recreational marijuana in November of 2018, but it has been a full year and there are still no adult-use facilities in the state. But as of November 1st, Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency started accepting adult-use marijuana business applications. The agency plans to issue the first recreational licenses to businesses that are already licensed to cultivate, distribute, process, test or transport medical marijuana. These licenses should be issued by late November, according to agency spokesman David Harns. 


Although these license applications may be approved, Michigan residents may have to wait months before recreational marijuana is available for purchase. There are currently no growers with recreational licenses, and no supply of legal recreational marijuana. With the plant’s growing cycle taking several months, plus processing, producing and packaging requiring time as well, it will be a while before adult-use marijuana is ready to be sold. The state believes retail marijuana and marijuana products will be ready to hit the market by March of 2020.


“If the state takes all of the 90 days afforded to them by law to review our application and grant us a license, then we could start producing that adult-use product,” Joe Neller, says chief government affairs office and co-founder at Green Peak Innovations. “It does appear the state is going to make us begin those plants from seed or clone, so that would take another six months to grow the product, harvest it, pass testing, package it up and get it on the market, so anywhere from six to nine months from Nov. 1 is how we’re modeling it.”


Another obstacle presenting itself is finding a municipality within Michigan that allows recreational marijuana facilities within city limits. On November 5th, 2019, many cities and townships held an election with a recreational marijuana proposal on the ballot. Most of these proposals were voted down, but a few have decided to allow recreational facilities. 

Lincoln Park, a city just south of Detroit, voted to allow adult-use marijuana facilities within its limits. But Allen Park, the city directly west of Lincoln Park, voted down a proposal to allow these facilities. 

In Ann Arbor, where recreational marijuana businesses are allowed, the owners of Exclusive Brands are excited to be named the first ever applicant, submitting the application at 12:17am on November 1st. Exclusive Brands already holds several medical marijuana state licenses, so they will likely be approved more quickly than other applicants.


“The state has been very helpful in getting us through this process to make sure we got all our ducks in a row and submitted our application in its entirety. We’ve aggressively been working on it, to be one of the first, so we’re very happy with that.”

Omar Hishmeh, co-owner of Exclusive Brands

By noon on November 1st, eleven businesses had already submitted applications, three of which have already completed prequalification, the first step in the two-step application process. 

The first step, prequalification, is based on researching the applicant’s background. According to LARA, Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Pre-Qualification will include a full background check of the applicant and all supplemental applicants. This includes – but is not limited to – individuals or businesses with an ownership interest in the applicant.  

The second step, License Qualification, is more focused on the actual business plans, activities, and building inspections. LARA states, “License Qualification requires information specific to the physical location of the applicant’s business as well as to which type of facility license the potential licensee is applying. If applicants have a location secured, they will have the option of submitting Pre-Qualification (step one) and License Qualification (step two) materials at the same time.”

Once both Prequalification and License Qualification are complete, and all requirements in the MMFLA and administrative rules are met, the completed application is presented to the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board (MMLB). Upon approval from the MMLB, an applicant will be required to pay a regulatory assessment fee for each license. Once the regulatory assessment is received, the license is issued.

By the end of November 1st, a total of 52 businesses had submitted applications, according to Crain’s Detroit. Business owners have high hopes; that their applications will be approved quickly so they can begin producing and selling adult-use marijuana soon. Residents of Michigan seem to be excited as well, as many have been eagerly waiting an entire year to see marijuana retail stores open.


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