Legal marijuana in Michigan has been through some big ups and downs over the past handful of years. At one point, the state nearly shut down all medical marijuana dispensaries in order to roll out a new set of rules and regulations. Luckily for patients, that never happened.
Nonetheless, it’s been something of a long road in the state. But now, it looks like full-scale recreational cannabis is about to become available to consumers in Michigan.
According to state officials, retail sales of recreational marijuana are now scheduled to go into effect on December 1.
New Announcement From Michigan Authorities
Earlier today, officials in Michigan confirmed that recreational sales will begin on December 1. The announcement came amid ongoing uncertainty if or when retail might actually begin.
Initially, it looked like recreational sales might not kick off until some time in the first quarter of 2020. That’s because officials originally did not want to bring any product over from the medical marijuana side of things.
This plan would have required all products intended for the recreational market to start out from scratch. As a result, the earliest products could have hit shelves would be early 2020, after the first complete growing cycle.
But instead of putting the recreational market on hold for that long, authorities reached a compromise.
Now, the plan is to allow certain licensed medical marijuana companies to transfer up to 50 percent of all inventory into the recreational market. As a result, sales can start much quicker than waiting for a full harvest to be completed.
“This approach will allow for a transition to the adult use market as we estimate that there will be around a dozen or so licensees who would be eligible on Dec. 1,” David Harns, spokesperson for Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency, told local news source MLive.
He added: “Similar to the medical market, we expect it be a slow build out as the production of plants and products increases. This will create an environment where businesses can supply the market as quickly as possible.”
Fear of Illicit Market Catalyzes Decision
According to local news reports, concerns about the illicit marijuana market were key drivers in the decision to initiate recreational sales sooner rather than wait until next year.
Specifically, many were concerned that delaying retail might push consumers into to the illicit market.
At the same time, authorities did not want to slow down or harm the medical marijuana program.
But by allowing for an initial transfer of products from the medical market to the recreational market, authorities believe they can accomplish all their goals simultaneously.
“By only allowing a transfer of 50%, it will keep production and sales on the medical side moving as well,” Harns said.”Businesses will make decisions to move products where the demand exists, including the non-flower products that are currently in abundance.”
The new decision puts Michigan on pace for a potentially robust recreational market.
In addition to today’s announcement, the state started taking applications for recreational businesses on November 1. Already, authorities say they have begun approving applications and issuing early licenses.