A Look at the Future of Marijuana in Michigan

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

By Koral C. Fritz

Last week the Marijuana Law Section of the Michigan State Bar held its 4th Annual Marijuana Law Conference in Grand Rapids. The conference included break out sessions focused on both the business and criminal sides of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (MRTMA). Over three days, speakers addressed issues spanning from the difficulty of measuring the amount of marijuana a driver has consumed to critical contractual terms marijuana businesses will want to incorporate in agreements.

Curiosity, uncertainty, and some frustration lingered in the air of each session as attendees spotted potential issues that could arise in the licensing process and with enforcement action. The director of the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) explained that the emergency rules that the Agency published in July are going to be in place for some time yet as the Agency continues to draft final rules. The current emergency rules were published to implement, administer, and enforce MRTMA until final rules can be established. The MRA’s projected timeline is to have draft rules ready in January 2020 with a public hearing in February. From there, the MRA anticipates the final rules should be filed by May.

November 1, 2019 (this Friday) marks the first official day that the MRA will start accepting recreational marijuana business applications. However, hundreds of communities around the state have already opted out of recreational marijuana sales. Communities must officially opt out if they seek to prevent any marijuana facilities in their area. In the communities that have not opted out, marijuana businesses can soon pursue different types of licensing options. Within Ottawa County, Ferrysburg, Georgetown Township, Grand Haven, Grand Haven Charter Township, Hart, Holland, Holland Township, Olive Township, Spring Lake, Wright Township, and Zeeland are among the communities that have officially opted out of recreational marijuana facilities.

Under the emergency rules, there are four additional types of licenses available in addition to the license types required in MRTMA.

  • Marijuana Event Organizer – allows the license holder to apply for Temporary Marijuana Event licenses from the MRA.
  • Temporary Marijuana Event – this license allows a Marijuana Event Organizer to run an event – which has been approved by the local municipality – where the onsite sale or consumption of marijuana products, or both, are authorized at a specific location for a limited time. Licensed Retailers and Microbusinesses may participate. The Marijuana Event Organizer is required to hire security and ensure that all rules and requirements for onsite consumption of marijuana products are followed.
  • Designated Consumption Establishment – allows the license holder, with local approval, to operate a commercial space that is licensed by the MRA and authorized to permit adults 21 years of age and older to consume marijuana and marijuana products on premises. A Designated Consumption Establishment license does not allow for sales or distribution of marijuana or marijuana product, unless the license holder also possesses a Retailer or Microbusiness license.
  • Excess Marijuana Grower – allows a licensee who already holds five adult-use Class C Grower licenses to expand their allowable marijuana plant count.

The MRA has provided the following chart to define equivalent licenses between MRTMA and the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA).


For communities that are opting in, there is still an option to limit the number of licenses available for marijuana businesses. If a community elects to opt in and limit the number of licenses available, the community must develop a competitive licensing process to select applicants who are best suited to operate in compliance with the law.

Starting next week, there will be a better understanding of the licensing process as the MRA begins to review and decide on applications. Several communities have opted out pending the MRA’s completion of the final rules. After the rules are finalized, some communities may to decide to opt back in.

The law on this subject is evolving quickly in Michigan. Be sure to stay up to date on licensing, compliance, and other new rules. If you need help determining your licensing requirements or would like assistance forming your marijuana business, please contact me at the Innovative Law Group in Holland, MI.

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Image: Max Pixel used under Public Domain License.

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