MI may allow stand-alone adult-use cannabis licenses earlier than expected

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(The story has been updated to reflect comments by the state that a final decision hasn’t yet been made on the plan.)

Michigan is considering making recreational-only licenses available to marijuana businesses in November, a year ahead of schedule, according to the state’s top cannabis regulator.

The plan would open up new business opportunities in Michigan’s nascent adult-use industry, including the possibility of more robust social equity licensing.

But the state’s program remains constrained because only about 60 municipalities have embraced adult use, while roughly 1,400 have opted out at least for the time being.

The plan to allow stand-alone rec licenses a year ahead of schedule was disclosed by Andrew Brisbo, executive director of the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA), in an interview with Crain’s Detroit Business.

MRA spokesman David Harns told Marijuana Business Daily on Wednesday afternoon that a final decision hasn’t yet been made and that discussions are ongoing with stakeholders.

Michigan launched its adult-use market on Nov. 1, 2019, giving medical marijuana operators a two-year head start.

But Brisbo told Crain’s that obtaining both an MMJ and a rec license might be too high of a barrier to entry, especially in cities such as Detroit that want to make sure they have strong social-equity programs for individuals harmed by the war on drugs.

“I would expect to see municipalities that want to address equity at the local level could move forward with a lot of additional participation,” Brisbo told Crain’s.

“There’s not quite as high a barrier to entry on the adult-use side, and that could open the market up.”

Despite a low municipal participation rate, Michigan adult-use sales already are rivaling MMJ sales – both categories have exceeded $200 million in sales since last December.

The new Marijuana Business Factbook estimates that Michigan rec sales will reach $400 million-$475 million in 2020.