Despite Early Launch of Adult-Use Cannabis Market in Michigan, 79% of State Will Remain Without Legal Access

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State regulators announced that beginning in December, the state’s licensed medical cannabis dispensaries will be allowed to sell up to half of their inventories to recreational users.

By Melissa Hutsell

Christmas will come a little early for Michigan’s adult cannabis consumers because state regulators recently announced that the sale of recreational products will begin on Dec. 1—months before the market was expected to roll out next spring.

State voters approved Proposal 1 on Nov. 6, 2018, making it the “first in the Midwest to pass adult-use marijuana legislation,” reports MJ Biz Daily. The proposal effectively legalizes, regulates, and taxes the sales of cannabis for adults 21 and older.

The state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) began accepting applications for adult-use businesses on Nov. 1, according to Cannabis Business Times. Sales were originally set to begin next year in the spring of 2020; however, the agency announced it would allow licensed medical cannabis dispensaries to sell up to half of their inventories to recreational users.

One condition is that the dispensaries must have had the products they plan to transfer for at least 30 days, according to MJ Biz Daily.

The MRA had previously explained that recreational cannabis sold on the legal market would need to be grown from scratch; meaning products were not expected to be ready for the retail shelves until after harvests in March or April.

A supply shortage, combined with a drop in the amount of registered medical patients, may have influenced the agency’s decision.

Many consumers, and canna-companies have applauded the decision. But others aren’t so happy about it. Randall Buchman, CEO of Emerald Growth Partners, told MJLive that the lack of transparency on behalf of the agency was disappointing.

Despite the new, accelerated launch, it may be some time before the legal supply catches up with demand as the Michigan market takes shape. In fact—legal, recreational cannabis is still not available (and will not be available) in most of the state for the near future. That’s because Michigan’s legalization model allows communities to “opt out” of the adult-use market, and ban storefronts within city limits. Bans can be lifted

According to the Metro Times, 79% of the state’s municipalities—including Detroit— have so far opted out. Cities like Ann Arbor, Ferndale, and Pontiac, however, are embracing the new legal market.

Emerald contributor since February 2016

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