Michigan marijuana regulations and COVID-19: What to know

The industry faces new regulations as Michigan businesses begin to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic

Marijuana plants are pictured at the Baker's marijuana nursery at Baker Medical Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) (Sue Ogrocki, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) announced Thursday new regulations for marijuana licensees to follow in accordance with the state’s reopening guidelines and stay-at-home order.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer divided the state into eight regions under her MI Safe Start Plan as the state’s economy begins to reopen amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Each region will execute a reopening plan tailored to whatever “phase” of the pandemic they are currently experiencing.

MORE: New tool shows Michiganders where their region is in Gov. Whitmer’s reopening plan, and why

Bars, restaurants and retail businesses have been cleared to partially reopen in northern Michigan counties, which are currently labeled as “medium risk”. The remainder of the counties in the lower peninsula are labeled as “medium-high risk” and have been allowed to partially reopen retail and auto businesses.

Marijuana retail locations and provisioning facilities have remained open amid the pandemic as they have been considered essential under Whitmer’s executive orders. Retailers initially switched to curbside and delivery services as the inside of the facilities closed to the public due to the pandemic.

Now retailers located in “medium risk” counties are allowed to resume in-person services with social distancing and face covering restrictions in place.

Like other Michigan businesses reopening in the “medium-high risk” zones (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7), Marijuana retailers and provisioning facilities are allowed to resume in-person business with additional restrictions in place. Patrons can visit the retail locations in these zones by appointment only. Only 10 customers will be allowed in a facility at one time and must wear face coverings and practice social distancing, officials said. Facilities that are less than 50,000 square feet of customer floor space must limit store occupancy to only 25% capacity.

Under the state’s reopening plan all Marijuana licensees are required to provide their staff with face masks and personal protective equipment and promote social distancing in the workplace. Employees must also be screened daily for COVID-19 before entering the workplace, officials said.

The MRA is also requiring licensees to establish a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan by June 1 or within two weeks of resuming business, whichever is later.

Employees with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 must be allowed to return to work after they are no longer infectious, officials said. However, facilities are still required to limit staff to the minimum number necessary to operate.

The MRA is encouraging marijuana retailers and provisioners to continue offering curbside or home delivery services to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Marijuana growers, processors, handlers, safe transporters and designated consumption sites must also implement safety procedures amid the pandemic. Click here to view the regulations established by the MRA.

RELATED: Sales are booming for Michigan marijuana businesses during coronavirus pandemic

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.