Michigan Begins Accepting Applications For Recreational Marijuana Businesses

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By WWJ Newsradio 950

(WWJ) -- The state of Michigan has received more than a dozen applications for the licensing of recreational marijuana businesses.

Friday, Nov. 1 was the first day that those looking to run regulated marijuana businesses could submit applications after the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act was passed last fall, paving the way for recreational pot shops alongside medical marijuana operations.

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency, created to oversee the state’s developing commercial marijuana industry, began accepting applications at midnight and the first one was received shortly thereafter. The first business to submit their application was Exclusive Brands in Ann Arbor. Owned by Omar Hishmeh, Exclusive has operated for several years as a grower, processor and retailer of medical marijuana products for more than 100 shops across the state.

Now, Hishmeh says he and his team worked for months putting together the 100-page-plus application to mirror their medical operation on the recreational side of the industry. Regulations would allow licensees to grow up to 1,500 plants.

"We are very excited and we’re very grateful. We feel very blessed everybody here at Exclusive Brands, we’re very happy to be the first. We’ve worked very hard for this." Hishmeh told WWJ.

As with all submitted applications, the state's regulatory agency now has 90 days to approve or deny Exclusive's application.

MRA director Andrew Brisbo says in addition to reviewing licenses for growing and processing facilities, they have been working to help banks. 

"We’ve made tremendous progress in the in the medical space, and that will carry over to the adult-use space in providing information from the regulatory agency to financial institutions that are designated by licensees that will help them with their due diligence," Brisbo said.

While the ban on marijuana has been lifted, many municipalities across the state have created ordinances to prohibit marijuana businesses from operating in their municipality.

"At the state level, we’ll issue a license to everyone, but we can’t issue a license to a facility if it’s prohibited in that municipality," Brisbo said.

While the application process is now in full-swing, the exact date of when Michiganders will be able to purchase recreational marijuana is still unclear. The MRA says it probably won't be until March, at the earliest, according to a report from MLive. All products that will be sold in licensed stores must be grown by recreational growers, which must go through the application review process. Once a business is approved, it will take several months to grow, process, package, as well as test, the products before they can be sold commercially.