About Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Program
In 2008, Michigan became the thirteenth state to legalize the use of medical marijuana. Sixty-three percent of voters supported the enactment of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, “marihuana” as spelled and defined within the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ (LARA) regulatory code, allowing qualifying patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable medical marijuana and to keep up to 12 cannabis plants in a secured area. In order to qualify for the medical marijuana program patients must receive a recommendation from their physician and suffer from one of the debilitating medical conditions listed in the statute (including diseases such as cancer, AIDS, and Crohn’s disease).
The Act also allows a qualifying patient to designate a Primary Caregiver who is allowed to assist with the patient’s use of medical marijuana. A Primary Caregiver can also keep up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana and up to 12 plants for each qualifying patient under the Caregiver’s assistance. A Primary Caregiver can only assist up to five patients at once. Qualifying Patients and Primary Caregivers must register under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program at Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and adhere to Michigan marijuana growing laws in order to take advantage of the program.
The ambiguity of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act has been the subject of numerous court cases, and in 2016 the state enacted the Michigan Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act to clarify Michigan cannabis grow and manufacturing laws as well as Michigan dispensary laws and the legality of cannabis facilities and develop a Michigan marijuana license program. Under the act, municipalities would first determine whether to allow medical marijuana facilities in their communities, and then the state would decide whether to issue licenses to growers, processors, transporters, provisioning centers, and safety compliance facilities. Figuring out just how to get a grower’s license in Michigan or how to open a dispensary in Michigan, requires a keen understanding of Michigan medical marijuana laws as well as devising a strategic growing, manufacturing, or dispensary business plan.
Steps to Obtaining a License in Michigan
Michigan employs a two-step process for granting medical marijuana facility licenses. An applicant must first undergo a Pre-Qualification evaluation (“Step 1”) before the State can begin the License Qualification process (“Step 2”). The applicant must first pay a $6,000 application fee before the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (“BMMR”) reviews any Step 1 or Step 2 materials. If one applicant seeks multiple licenses (e.g., a Michigan commercial grow license and a Michigan marijuana dispensary license), the applicant will only be required to pay the $6,000 application fee once.
During Step 1, the applicant will identify any individuals with an ownership interest in the applicant’s business (referred to as “supplemental applicants”). The applicant and any supplemental applicants must undergo a full background check, and once the application is processed, all applicants must submit a fingerprint report. The BMMR requires that fingerprint reports be obtained after the application is processed, and will not accept fingerprint reports obtained before that time.
After the Step 1, the BMMR will evaluate the applicant’s License Qualifications and conduct a pre-licensure investigation. The BMMR will not issue a state license before the applicant obtains approval from the municipality where it intends to operate. If the applicant has already chosen a facility before Step 1, the applicant may choose to submit materials for both steps simultaneously. Otherwise, the applicant must locate a space for its facility prior to submitting materials for Step 2 and must submit specific information regarding the physical location of the business. Under state law, the applicant can only operate in a municipality that has authorized medical marijuana facilities within its borders and that has enacted marijuana ordinances that are compliant with Section 205 of the Medical Marihuana Facility Licensing Act (“MMFLA”).
Once the BMMR approves an applicant’s Step 1 and Step 2 materials, the applicant will be required to pay a regulatory assessment fee before the license issues. The Michigan commercial grow license cost, as well as the processor, secure transporter, provisioning center, and safety compliance facility regulatory assessment fees vary based on license type and range from $10,000 to $57,000. If the applicant applied for multiple licenses, such as a Michigan Dispensary License, also known as a Provisioning Center License, as well as a Michigan Grower License, the applicant must pay individual regulatory assessment fees for each license type.
License Types Available in Michigan
Growing marijuana in Michigan legally requires a grower license which authorizes the grower to grow not more than the following number of marijuana plants under the indicated license class for each license the grower holds in that class:
- Class A — 500 marijuana plants
- Class B — 1,000 marijuana plants
- Class C — 1,500 marijuana plants
A processor license authorizes purchase of marijuana only from a grower and sale of marijuana-infused products or marijuana only to a provisioning center or another processor.
Secure Transporter License
A secure transporter license authorizes the licensee to store and transport marijuana and money associated with the purchase or sale of marijuana between marijuana facilities for a fee upon request of a person with legal custody of that marijuana or money. It does not authorize transport to a registered qualifying patient or registered primary caregiver.
Provisioning Center License
A provisioning center license authorizes the purchase or transfer of marijuana only from a grower or processor and sale or transfer to only a registered qualifying patient or registered primary caregiver.
Safety Compliance Facility
In addition to transfer and testing authorized in section 203, a safety compliance facility license authorizes the safety compliance facility to do all of the following without using a secure transporter:
- (a) Take marijuana from, test marijuana for, and return marijuana to only a marijuana facility.
- (b) Collect a random sample of marijuana at the marijuana facility of a grower, processor, or provisioning center for testing.
Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulations - Under Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs —The Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (BMMR) is responsible for the oversight of medical marijuana in Michigan and consists of the Medical Marihuana Facility Licensing Division and the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program Division