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Michigan regulators hand out first recreational marijuana retail licenses

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

An Ann Arbor business is the first to get a state recreational marijuanalicense.

More licenses are expected to be handed out before retail sales begin December 1st.

State marijuana regulators handed the first licenses of growing, processing and dispensing recreational marijuana to the owners of Exclusive Brands LLC.

Company officials expect recreational sales will double their sales.

Narmin Jarrous is the executive vice president of business development for Exclusive Brands. She says the Ann Arbor business has been ramping up its inventory of marijuana flower and other products since the summer to be ready for the opening of the recreational market.

“We knew this was coming. This wasn’t a surprise to anybody,” says Jarrous, “We’ve been making sure that that we have the right inventories in place.”

The state also awarded licenses to a marijuana testing company and an event planner. 

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency started accepting recreational license applications November 1st. To date, the agency has received 69 recreational applications, with 25 of them for dispensaries.

“We’re going to see a gradual build-up and roll out of this program,” says Andrew Brisbo. He's director of the Marijuana Regulatory Agency.

While Brisbo did not indicate where licenses will be granted over the next few weeks, he insists a lot of licenses will be issued in the short term.

Roughly four out of five Michigan communities have opted outof the recreational marijuana market, effecting where businesses can set up.  

Michigan voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana use in November, 2018. Individuals have beenlegally able to use marijuanafor recreational purposes since December of last year. However, retail sales of recreational marijuana products have been on hold as state officials have come up with a regulatory framework.

There remains concern about what a recreational marijuana retail market will mean for Michiganders who rely on medical marijuana.

Those concerns grew when the Marijuana Regulatory Agency issued a bulletin advising businesses that they would be allowed to shift up to 50% of their existing products, that's been in their inventory for 30 days or longer, to the recreational side once they obtain a recreational license.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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