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Change is coming to Michigan's marijuana industry regulations

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

This Tuesday, the way Michigan regulates the marijuana industry will undergo a change.

On March 1st, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) signed executive order 2019-7. The order created the Marijuana Regulatory Agency, within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). The agency will officially replace the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board this week.

The change involves more than just reprinting office stationary. 

The new agency will be responsible for administering laws related to medical marijuana (which has been legal for a decade) and recreational marijuana (which Michigan voters approved last November).

The state has to come up with new ways to regulate the previously illegal industry. The agency will need to have emergency rules in place by June or July in order to give businesses time to apply for licenses for recreational sales beginning in December. Actual sales of recreational use cannabis products will begin next year. 

The agency’s current 102 full time employees will swell to 150 FTE in Fiscal Year 2020.    

The governor’s office is optimistic the new agency will be improve the licensing review process that has been criticized in the past as “inefficient.”

Several unlicensed marijuana businesses took the state to court this month after they were threatened with being forced to shut down after a March 31 deadline passed. A Court of Claims judge is expected to issue a decision in the suit by Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, Michigan state lawmakers are considering legislation to put a firm June 1 deadline in place for cannabis businesses to obtain a state 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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