Michigan’s cannabis laws continue to evolve. Now, most recently, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order that dramatically overhauls the state’s handling of medical and recreational marijuana. Specifically, the new executive order formally establishes an entirely new regulatory and oversight agency.
Michigan’s New Marijuana Regulatory Agency
Earlier today, Gov. Gretchen signed Executive Order 2019-7. This order formally established a new state agency, called the Marijuana Regulatory Agency.
This new agency will operate within the larger Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, more commonly called LARA. Additionally, the new Marijuana Regulatory Agency essentially replaces both the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation and the Marihuana Licensing Board.
Now, the new Marijuana Regulatory Agency will oversee pretty much everything these older organizations were in charge of supervising.
First and foremost, this includes regulating the state’s medical marijuana program. Additionally, lawmakers hope the new agency will be better equipped to smoothly and effectively oversee recreational cannabis, which officially became legal in December 2018.
Ultimately, lawmakers in favor of the new agency hope that combining the duties of two earlier groups into a single organization will streamline the administration of cannabis laws and programs throughout the state.
“This executive order will eliminate inefficiencies that have made it difficult to meet the needs of Michigan’s medical marijuana patients,” Gov. Whitmer told local news sources.
“All elements of this Agency have been designed to serve and better protect Michigan residents, and I’m eager to have a unified effort across state departments to make sure this process runs effectively and efficiently.”
What The New Agency Will Do
As reported by local media, there are a number of key things the new agency will do. These include:
- Provide key financial information about marijuana in the state every year.
- Serve as the primary decision makers for issues related to marijuana in Michigan.
- Hold four meetings every year. At these meetings, people can file complaints. Additionally, the agency will use these meetings to share important information and updates with lawmakers and the public.
Michigan’s Evolving Marijuana Laws
Gov. Whitmer’s executive order is the latest chapter in Michigan’s ongoing cannabis evolution.
Medical marijuana has been legal in the state for years. But recently, the state’s medical marijuana program has gone through some big changes.
At one point in 2017, officials considered closing all medical marijuana dispensaries while they finalized new regulatory frameworks. Fortunately, they decided not to close the shops.
However, to remain in business moving forward, medical marijuana businesses have to comply with any new licensing and approval processes.
In the meantime, the state has also seen some big changes on the recreational front. Last November, Michigan voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana.
That change went into effect in December 2018. However, although it’s technically legal to possess and consume recreational weed, there is still no system in place for the legal retail of recreational cannabis. And this worries many in the cannabis community.
“LARA’s made a big mess of this,” Matthew Abel, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said in December. “What lawmakers should have done is focus on licensing growers and transporters, and enabling medical marijuana facilities to sell retail.”
For now, it remains unclear when Michigan might create a system for legal recreational retail.