The state of Michigan has awarded its first medical cannabis licenses, thus launching its medical cannabis industry. Business owners, however, will not be able to open shop until next month, at the earliest.
More specifically, medical cannabis licenses were awarded to four big cannabis growing operations located in Chesaning, one dispensary and processor located in Ann Arbor, and one secure transport company just out of Lansing.
No testing facility licenses have been granted, though. This means that the actual cannabis plants and the cannabis-derived products cannot be tested or sold just yet.
The granting of cannabis business licenses was the latest delay in a series of impediments to Michigan’s medical cannabis industry.
It can be recalled that Michigan initially legalized medical cannabis in 2008. However, just like many early medical cannabis programs in different states, the industry was permitted to operate with relatively few regulations. In December 2016, the Legislature passed a new law creating a stricter regulatory framework for the medical cannabis program.
However, getting the new rules in place and awarding the licenses had been a slow and tedious process. The transition from being an unregulated cannabis industry to a more controlled one has caused Michigan certain growing pains, especially considering the fact that dispensaries have to supply enough medical cannabis products for the 300,000 registered patients in the state.
According to the new regulations, all cannabis businesses require a license by the state, and those businesses that failed to turn in their applications by February 2018 have been ordered to shut down. Those facilities that applied for licenses are allowed to continue their operations without license until September 15 while their applications are being reviewed.
Testing labs to come soon
According to Andrew Brisbo, director for Michigan’s Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, they continue to work with a few testing labs close by and are in the process of trying to get them licensed. He explained that they are aware that not having a licensed laboratory presents a challenge for other types of cannabis facilities.
Brisbo said that they will hopefully have a few labs up in August to be considered by the board.
He also reminded newly licensed dispensaries that they cannot sell any product they have on hand until it has been tested.
He acknowledged that it will be a challenge for businesses to move from being a temporary operating facility to being a fully operational one.
The newly licensed medical cannabis businesses
The first four licenses were awarded to VB Chesaning, which is a mid-Michigan company that had applied for four Class C licenses to grow cannabis. Each license allows them to grow up to 1,500 cannabis plants.
Two more licenses have been granted to Cannarbor and Arbor Kitchen, which is an Ann Arbor-based dispensary and processor. The final license was awarded to Capital Transport, which is a Lansing-based transporter.
These newly licensed companies have to pay a regulatory assessment of $48,000 per license before they can start their operations. This amount will be used to pay for the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, which is the body regulating the medical cannabis industry in the state.
Other than the seven licenses they awarded to these companies, 16 businesses were also given preliminary approval by the board and will still have to get their local communities’ approval before they are given a final license.
Among the pre-qualified businesses is Green Peak Innovations, which plans to operate 12 cannabis grow facilities, 19 dispensaries, and one processor. It is setting up its headquarters and production facilities on a 25-acre property in Harvest Park, which is a cannabis industrial park located in Windsor Township, just south of Lansing. These facilities are expected to be completed later this summer.
Moreover, Green Peak has also secured properties for several cannabis dispensaries that are expected to open later this year once they get their license applications approved.