Last week, Michigan took a big step toward recreational cannabis sales when Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency released its long-awaited emergency rules to regulate the marijuana market. The rules come more than seven months after Michigan voters passed Proposal 1 to legalize recreational marijuana. The law took effect in December 2018, making it legal for those 21 and older to possess and consume marijuana. The sale and purchase of marijuana for adult use isn’t legal yet, however, and it is unclear when exactly legal recreational sales will be begin. All we know is that it will be at least several months, as the Agency won’t begin accepting applications for recreational marijuana licenses until November 1, 2019.
The newly issued cannabis regulations largely mirror the medical marijuana rules that are already in place. But there are a few distinctions. Perhaps most notably, it will be much easier to start a recreational cannabis company. Recreational cannabis businesses, unlike their medical marijuana counterparts, will not need to prove they have sufficient funds to finance their operation, and recreational licensing fees will be much cheaper than licensing fees for medical marijuana.
The emergency rules allow for home delivery of marijuana, although they prohibit “mobile” shops, drive-thrus, and online and mail-order sales. In addition, the rules allow for greater social use of marijuana (special events, festivals, smoking lounges, and clubs can apply for permits or licenses) and require the Agency to establish a social-equity plan to address areas disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement.
The emergency regulations will be in effect for six months and can be extended for an additional six months. At that point, it is anticipated the Agency will be ready to issue final regulations.