Some medical marijuana businesses will have to wait to benefit from recreational market

Published: Nov. 1, 2019 at 6:29 PM EDT
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(11/01/19) - Not every medical marijuana business has been able to take advantage of Michigan's first day of accepting applications for adult-use (recreational) licenses.

Businesses seeking approval that are


medically licensed already, have a much lengthier process to endure through pre-qualification. That is something medical licensees have already been through.

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) told ABC12 it received 34 applications for pre-qualification (Step 1) and 18 applications for state licenses (Step 2) on November 1.

Three pre-qualification approvals were also issued.

Mt. Morris Township is one of 1,368 communities out of 1,773 that have told MRA they are opting out of the establishment licensing portion of Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA).

That could have a major impact on businesses like

, which opened in Mt. Morris Township on Pier N. Boulevard in August. General Manager Brandi Rice-Simpson hopes the township reconsiders.

"Ultimately if they decided not to opt in for us, we wouldn't be able to create more jobs for our community. We would have a loss in tax revenue as well as an overall loss in patients that we could see and/or consumers they would be at this point," Rice-Simpson said. "We couldn't educated our community properly, and ultimately they would be going back to the black market and have to travel into other townships."

The shop is open seven days a week and provides a number of discounts to its patients. Rice-Simpson wants to expand their services to the greater recreational market as well.

"Business is going relatively well," Rice-Simpson said. "Considering that the demand is still very high, it's unfortunately the supply that's a little bit lacking."

On the other side, a Burton medical marijuana provisioning center applied for an adult use license. The shop owner told ABC12 the process was much smoother than his initial application process. Burton is one of the municipalities that has opted in to the establishment licensing portion of MRTMA.

MRA Executive Director Andrew Brisbo says the application process opened up smoothly on the first day.

"It's been a year's worth of preparation so I think everyone is excited to actually start doing work and moving things forward," Brisbo said.

He expects the first license to be issued at the end of November, but you likely won't see product in stores until 2020. Brisbo estimates it could be the first quarter of 2020. Rice-Simpson thinks May 2020 could be the earliest that product is in stores.

"Once they license recreational facilities for grow and for retail, we have to be able to grow the medication into the state system and then test it and provide it for the retail market," Rice-Simpson said.

Brisbo expects to see more applications come in as more communities consider or reconsider opting in.

"I think it's important for consumers to know that the regulated market provides an opportunity for them to get consistent products that are tested and in line with state standards," Brisbo said.

*The number of communities opting out is a fluid list that has continually fluctuated. ABC12 will update it as new numbers become available.

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