The first seven medical marijuana licenses were granted to marijuana business in Michigan last week. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs approved four growing licenses, one transporter, one processing center, and one provisioning center.
No licenses were given to marijuana testing facilities.
This is significant because new regulations passed by the state in 2016 require medical marijuana to pass through a testing facility before being sold. Without anywhere to test their pot, Cannarbor, the parent company of the newly-licensed provisioning center, can’t actually sell medical marijuana yet.
David Harns, spokesperson for the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, says the licensing board isn't deliberately trying to stop businesses from selling marijuana. The application process for testing centers is very extensive, and none of the six businesses that applied for the license were ready to present their application to the board at the July meeting.
“There weren't any that had made it through the entire application process,” Harns says. “We had some that were very close, and we expect them to be presented to the board at the August meeting.”
James Daly owns Cannarbor, as well as the processing center that was licensed last week. Daly says not having a licensed testing facility open yet isn't really affecting his business -- he wasn’t expecting to be able to sell under the new license right away anyway.
“We knew that there were challenges with the roll-out and the state has been very understanding and helpful in transitioning us from the old model to new,” Daly says.
Daly is still able to sell medical marijuana to patients at Arbors Wellness-- the operating name of his newly-licensed dispensary-- thanks to emergency rules set up by the state after they passed the new regulations two years ago.
In fact, any facilities selling medical marijuana in the state that applied for a license by February 15 of this year are permitted to continue operating without a license until September 15 while the board processes all the applications they’ve received. 607 prequalification applications for all types of medical marijuana businesses were received by LARA.
Businesses that didn’t apply for the license were sent cease and desist letters in February. Harns estimates that about 200 of those letters were sent.
All businesses who receive medical marijuana licenses must also pay a $48,000 fee before their license actually goes into effect. Harns says the fee is so high because the medical marijuana industry in the state is designed to be “budget-neutral,” meaning the licensees pay for their own regulation.
*Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Cannarbor and Arbors Wellness were two separate provisioning centers. That is incorrect. Cannarbor is the parent company, and the provisioning center operates under the name Arbors Wellness. The story has been corrected above.