Michigan Bureau of Marijuana Regulation states that draft rules should be ready by summer

Mar 26, 2019

Michigan’s Bureau of Marijuana Regulation has begun the arduous task of drafting rules and regulations for the commercial production and sale of recreational marijuana in the Wolverine State.

Bureau Director Andrew Brisbo told state lawmakers on Wednesday that they anticipate that draft rules should be ready by June; however, the issuance of emergency administrative rules may not occur until later in the year. The Bureau can begin accepting applications for recreational cannabis business licenses at that time.

In accordance with the will of the Michigander voters, recreational marijuana use was voted into law last November. The law allows the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, of which the Bureau is a branch, to develop administrative rules and to begin taking applications for cannabis business licenses by December 9 of this year.

“We can be prepared to do that. Whether we will or not depends on a lot of different factors,” Brisbo told The Detroit News and other reporters after testifying before the Michigan House Oversight Committee.

To pass emergency rules or not to pass

The will or will not of the matter is whether the Bureau will pass short-term emergency rules, like the ones that Michigan used to put medical marijuana licensing into place, or whether they will issue regular administrative rules and regulations.

According to Brisbo, if the Bureau passes emergency rules, it must be done in a strategically-timed manner. Emergency rules come with expiration dates, and Brisbo wants to ensure that the Bureau is prepared for the licensing process.

[California legislation hopes to address lag in approvals for cannabis business licenses]

“They’re only good for a six-month window,” Brisbo said of the emergency rules. “If you use all that up while no one’s getting licensed, then it’s not really effective.”

Brisbo feels that there is little point in developing and issuing emergency rules until the Bureau has sufficient staffing, the state treasury is ready to start collecting taxes on marijuana, and communities have had the chance to determine if they want to opt in or out of the commercial cannabis industry.

The Bureau has already begun to draft rules and arrange staff internally to process license applications. Additionally, the Bureau is pulling together work groups with various stakeholders and individuals for widespread input on potential administrative rules for the marijuana industry.

Representatives from licensees, municipalities, attorneys, businesses, and just plain-ol’ Michiganders make up the participant list for the adult-use work group. The stakeholder group will begin meeting next week to help develop the new marijuana rules.

If Michigan already has medical marijuana regulations, do they really need to reinvent the wheel?

While launching the adult-use marijuana market should be a bit of a speedier process than the medical marijuana program went through, there are consumer-based concerns which must be addressed. Meaning that the Bureau can’t just copy, cut, and paste the medical marijuana program’s rules and regulations.

“Some of the administrative aspects of the adult-use regulatory program we can pull from what we already know on the medical side,” Brisbo told Michigan Live back in February when asked about what the work groups would need to work on.

“I think we’ll be looking at more high-level policy issues—what the stakeholders feel works on the medical side that [sic] should be different on the adult-use side,” Brisbo concluded.

[Minnesota introduces legislation to legalize recreational marijuana]

Roughly 293,000 Michiganders are registered medical marijuana patients, one of the highest patient-counts in the country. Brisbo believes that the number of registered medical marijuana may decrease once the legal cannabis-consumer market is opened for business.

With a state of 10 million potential marijuana users, the state’s potential market is vast. The licensing process, as well as the requisite regulations, must be ready to go if the Wolverine State’s marijuana market is going to prosper.

“The end goal is to ensure the regulated market succeeds because the success of the regulated market is what will cause the degradation of the black market,” Brisbo told the House Committee.

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