DETROIT – Friday was the first day LARA’s Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) began accepting applications for recreational marijuana businesses.
It’s been a year since Michigan voters approved recreational marijuana usage and 11 years since medical marijuana was approved. Since the 2008 vote on medical marijuana, it took a while to get businesses up and running and it’s uncertain when recreational shops will start opening.
Stuart Carter is the owner of Utopia Gardens, a medical marijuana boutique on Lafayette Street. Like many others, Carter began the process Friday to get licensed for recreational marijuana.
“Our first one came at 12:17 this morning,” said Andrew Brisbo, the executive director at MRA. “We already issued our first approval at 1 a.m. this morning. We have three entities that have already been approved for prequalification and we’ve accepted 14 applications. So, our staff is more than ready.”
Brisbo said the process is two-fold. First, applicants get pre-qualified with background checks and pay $6,000. Step two is more complicated and involves business models and municipality information.
Step two is where Detroiters have hit snags. The city has opted out of recreational marijuana. The city council plans to work on an ordinance and pass it before they opt-in and residents -- like Carter -- can continue the licensing process.
Once all of that is done and businesses are state-approved, most recreational businesses will have to start with seeds because medical marijuana cannot be transferred in most cases.
That whole cycle needs to be completed -- growing clones, having the plants vegetate and flower -- a minimum of three to five months before that flower starts coming on market.
Detroit officials believes they will have their recreational ordinance in place by early 2020 and residents can continue on with the licensing application through the state.
More information on the licensing process can be read here.