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It's happening. Starting Sunday, December 1, 2019, Michiganders over the age of 21 will be able to purchase recreational marijuana from licensed retailers.

But you can’t just walk down to your nearest pot shop without a medical card and stock up. The licensing process is still in the very early stages, and only a handful of businesses will be open starting on Sunday.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

An Ann Arbor business is the first to get a state recreational marijuana license.

More licenses are expected to be handed out before retail sales begin December 1st.

State marijuana regulators handed the first licenses of growing, processing and dispensing recreational marijuana to the owners of Exclusive Brands LLC.

Marijuana plant
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Ten communities will decide on Tuesday whether they want businesses to be able to sell recreational marijuana.

Last November, the state passed a law legalizing recreational marijuana. Since then, the issue has been debated in communities around the state.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan will start accepting applications from businesses seeking recreational marijuana licenses Friday, November 1.

But retail sales may still be a long way off. 

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It's been almost a year since Michigan voters legalized recreational marijuana. Soon, the state will begin accepting applications for recreational pot businesses. That begs the question: what does all this mean for the existing medical marijuana industry in Michigan? 

Researching Medical Marijuana May Soon Get Easier

Aug 28, 2019

Researchers hoping to study marijuana for scientific and medical purposes are one step closer to expanding their limited supply of the plant.

This week, the federal government announced it would begin processing dozens of pending applications for permission to cultivate the plant for scientific research.

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As more states climb aboard the legal weed train, there are voices from the medical community urging caution ─ especially when it comes to teens. They warn that adolescent brains are exposed to a much more potent form of cannabis than the pot of days gone by.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s medical marijuana dispensaries will no longer be able to buy and sell untested cannabis products from caregivers.

The new rules are actually old rules that the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency says it will enforce. That's following a court ruling earlier this week. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s a new month and a new lease on life for dozens of unlicensed medical marijuana businesses in Michigan.

A Michigan Court of Claims judge sided with unlicensed cannabis businesses on Tuesday.  

In a sometimes scathing opinion, Judge Stephen Borrello slammed the state’s handling of applications from medical marijuana businesses.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s licensed medical marijuana businesses are starting to push back against the state’s apparent willingness to allow unlicensed dispensaries to stay open.

They plan to rally at the state capitol on Wednesday.

For months, operators of dozens of unlicensed provisioning centers convinced state regulators to extend deadlines to require that they obtain a state license to operate. When the state set a firm March 31st deadline, the dispensaries convinced a Court of Claims judge to issue a stay. The judge is expected to issue a ruling this week which may allow the unlicensed centers to keep their doors open.

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Dozens of unlicensed medical marijuana provisioning centers can continue to operate as attorneys try to reach an agreement with the state.

Attorneys for the medical marijuana businesses and state regulators met behind closed doors at the Hall of Justice in Lansing for a couple hours Tuesday. But the two sides could not reach an agreement that could keep 50 provisioning centers open.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Congress is considering legislation that would allow Michigan banks to work with marijuana businesses.

Federal law currently prohibits banks and credit unions from handling money for cannabis businesses.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The clock is ticking on dozens of unlicensed medical marijuana provisioning centers in Michigan.

Starting April 1, the state will direct those dispensaries to shut their doors.

Advocates are concerned that could mean medical marijuana patients will have trouble getting their medicine.

“We’re going to see a reduced access for medical marijuana patients because of the shuttering of some of those provisioning centers that are in the process of the licensing,” says Rick Thompson, with the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s medical marijuana businesses are once again facing a deadline to get a state license or be forced to close their doors.

State regulators are proposing Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Licensing Board give businesses until the end of this month to get their license to operate.   

medical marijuana application
Doug Tribou / Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order abolishing the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board.  It creates a new marijuana regulatory agency within the Department of Licensing and regulatory affairs. The functions of the licensing board will be taken over by that agency, and the board itself is abolished.

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A Michigan Court of Appeals decision has dealt a blow to workplace protections for medical marijuana users.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

State regulators are projecting an $18.2 million sales tax windfall from sales of medical marijuana this fiscal year.

7,002 pounds of medical marijuana products have been sold since state monitoring began marijuana sales in October, tallying $33,367,841.

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Today on Stateside, Michigan regulators allow unlicensed dispensaries and growers to reopen in midst of a medical marijuana shortage. Plus, a software engineer who traded building software for building kitchen cabinets.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan may soon allow closed medical marijuana dispensaries without a license to reopen.

More than half the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries were forced to close earlier this month because of licensing issues. The result of the closures has been a shortage of medical marijuana products.   Even licensed dispensaries have had problems stocking enough products to meet demand.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new cannabis industry group is calling on state regulators to ease a medical marijuana shortage in Michigan.

The newly formed Michigan Cannabis Industry Association has a lot of issues to address, but the current shortage of medical marijuana products tops the list.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Fifty-six percent of those who take medical marijuana for chronic pain admit that in the last six months they've driven under the influence of marijuana within two hours of using it. 

About one in five report that they've driven while "very high" at least once in the last six months, and about half say they've driven while "slightly high."  

Medical marijuana sign
Neeta Lind / Flickr - http://j.mp/1spglc0

Marijuana advocates say legal businesses and caregivers are being targeted for military-style drug raids in spite of attempts to obey the law in good faith. 

For owners of mainstream businesses, a minor lapse in regulatory compliance could mean receiving a warning and reinspection later. But for medical marijuana businesses, minor lapses in compliance can put them outside the protection of the law. Even the suspicion of a regulatory violation, or, in some cases, false accusations, can result in seizure of assets and prolonged court battles.

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People in Michigan who use medical marijuana may have a difficult time getting their medicine after Thursday.

Monday was the last day for medical marijuana businesses to potentially receive a state license. That’s because the state board in charge of granting licenses held its final meeting before an October 31st deadline. Businesses that didn’t receive the state’s blessing will be shut down on Thursday.

Linda Smith’s Haslett business helps people get medical marijuana cards. She’s says the threat of shutdowns has her patients worried about getting their medicine.

Michigan rolls out online marijuana card registration

Oct 28, 2018
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Neeta Lind / Flickr - http://j.mp/1spglc0

Michigan's medical marijuana program now has online registration. Andrew Brisbo is the director of the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation.

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Doug Tribou / Michigan Radio

Sometimes Michigan’s state government relies on experts from the private sector to help guide public policy.

But what if the experts stand to profit from the advice they’re giving? 

Take for example the panel that recommends which medical conditions allow people to qualify for medical marijuana cards.

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USFWS

Some unlicensed medical marijuana businesses in Michigan will be able to stay open. They were in danger of having to close their doors in the next few days.

Marijuana plant
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A state board has approved 16 medical marijuana licenses. Licenses have been approved at all stages of the medical marijuana system– from dispensaries to testing labs. But there’s been some concern about having enough pot shops open for patients.

Starting September 15th, any dispensary that doesn’t have a license will have to close.

David Harns is a spokesperson for the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation. He says once the deadline hits, there should be enough open dispensaries to meet the need.

marijuana plant
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The state reviewed another round of medical marijuana licenses on Thursday. The new licensing process comes out of laws passed in 2016 meant to better regulate the medical marijuana industry.

Michael Pedrosi is managing partner of Capital Transport, LLC, a secure transporter of medical marijuana. The company’s license was approved in July during the first state review of pre-qualified applicants. He joined Stateside to discuss the nascent industry and his expectations moving forward.

Medical marijuana sign
Neeta Lind / Flickr - http://j.mp/1spglc0

The city of Grand Rapids has voted to allow medical marijuana facilities.

The city commission unanimously voted to amend a zoning ordinance that will allow medical marijuana facilities Tuesday night.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss says it was important to get the business community’s opinion on the ordinance.

“But also making sure that we were including neighborhood voice in that decision,” Bliss said.

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