LANSING, Mich. – Sales of recreational cannabis could actually start ahead of schedule in one state.
Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) has notified dispensaries that they may begin diverting up to 50 percent of their medicinal inventory toward recreational sales starting December 1, earlier than previously thought. Dispensary operators must have obtained a recreational license before sales can begin. The agency plans on a slow rollout of recreational sales and believes about 12 licenses should be awarded before the end of the month.
“As we’ve seen in the medical market, it’s a slow build-out as inventory and production of plants and products increases,” Andrew Bisbo, director of MRA said according to Detroit Free Press. “We want to provide an environment where businesses can supply the market as quickly as possible.”
The MRA is hopeful that limiting the inventory transfer rate will ensure medicinal patients in need are not subjected to product shortages.
“By only allowing a transfer of 50 percent, it will keep production and sales on the medical side moving as well,” agency spokesman David Harns said according to The Detroit News. “Businesses will make decisions to move products where the demand exists, including the non-flower products that are currently in abundance.”
But with December 1 only weeks away, not everyone agrees that there is enough time to make sure patients’ interests are protected.
“When a state is regulating an industry like ours, it’s probably a good idea to give business owners as much notice as possible,” Robin Schneider, executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association said. “We need more notice than less than 30 days before this takes effect.”
Although some may view the move by MRA as rushed, the agency said pushing up the date of recreational sales may help combat black market sales.
“There’s definitely demand in both [the medical and recreational] markets and we want to provide a mechanism for businesses to provide products where the demand exists,” Brisbo said. He added that legal availability could reduce the appeal of illegal sales.
Recreational sales will not begin next month across the entire state. Detroit’s City Council, for instance, voted to delay sales until January 31, in order to create a city-specific recreational cannabis ordinance. According to Detroit Metro Times, close to half of Michigan’s communities have banned recreational cannabis sales.