August 18, 2019
Edited for clarification 6/10

LARA clarifies confusion surrounding new recreational marijuana regulations


MICHIGAN — The state is expected to release regulations governing recreational marijuana businesses at some point this month, and townships are scrambling to enact their own regulations in order to have more control over the types or number of facilities in their area.

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Communications Manager David Harns said if a township does not adopt an ordinance opting out of having recreational marijuana businesses, then the state has the ability to license facilities for that municipality.

However, if a township does pass an ordinance, it has the ability to set the number of facilities, type and other criteria, whether that be an unlimited number and type of business or a total ban of recreational marijuana businesses. This is the opposite of how the regulation of medical marijuana rolled out, where townships had to opt in rather than opt out.

“If (a municipality) does nothing, then licensees can find a home in your municipality,” he said. “If you don’t want that, you will have to pass an ordinance against it.”

Some have questioned if there is a deadline for when municipalities need to opt out. Harns said there is not a concrete date; however, municipalities will need to make a decision by the time the state begins to issue licenses to businesses. He said if there is no ordinance banning recreational marijuana businesses, the state is within its rights to grant licenses in that township.

Harns said municipalities will have at least a few months between when the state regulations are released and when the state begins licensing businesses, giving a rough November estimate. He said that should be ample time for municipalities to review the regulations and come up with their own rules for their residents.

Some have questioned if the state will overrule local municipality regulations, forcing them to host recreational marijuana businesses. Harns said the state does not have the power to do that.

“The state has the authority to issue licenses, and municipalities have the authority to not participate,” he said. “We have no statutory ability to (overrule) that.”

In the brief regulations that have been released so far, there is still some confusion surrounding how medical marijuana businesses and recreational businesses will be handled in relation to one another, and if townships are able to opt out of certain types of recreational businesses.

An excerpt from the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act says “A municipality may not adopt an ordinance that restricts the transportation of marihuana through the municipality or prohibits a marihuana grower, a marihuana processor, and a marihuana retailer from operating within a single facility or from operating at a location shared with a marihuana facility operating pursuant to the medical marihuana facilities licensing act.”

It is not clear whether this portion of the regulation is saying medical marijuana facilities are automatically allowed to participate in the sale of recreational marijuana as well. It is also not clear whether the regulations are claiming that if one type of facility is allowed, such as a storefront, then all types of facilities, such as grow operations, must be allowed if attached to the other business. Harns did not comment when questioned about these portions of the regulations, saying LARA does not interpret regulations released.

Harns said more information will be released this month when the final state regulations are published.


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