Pubdate: Mon, 20 Nov 2017
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2017 Detroit Free Press


LAS VEGAS -- For Hilary Dulany, long roots in Michigan and the
prospect of expanding her Oregon marijuana business are luring her
back to the Great Lakes State.

For Nancy Whiteman, the prospect of taking her business national has
her looking for partners in Michigan.

For the two women and many other entrepreneurs attending the MJ Biz
Conference in Las Vegas last week -- the pre-eminent conference where
18,500 professionals looking to get into the cannabis industry
gathered -- the common thread was Michigan's soon-to-explode marijuana

Michigan's 272,215 people who hold medical marijuana cards -- second
only to the number of medical marijuana users in California -- are a
potent enough clientele to attract business to Michigan. But the
prospect of a recreational marijuana ballot proposal that could open
the market to millions more has investors betting on the state as
their next potential gamble.

"Michigan has no idea what's coming," said Dulany as she talked with
conference attendees about the vaporizer her Michigan-based company --
Accuvape -- sells around the country. The device, which she now sells
in about 100 retail outlets in Michigan, allows users to vaporize
marijuana-infused oils and cartridges without the hassle of rolling
their own.

Dulany already has licenses to process marijuana into extracts in
Oregon and wants to expand that business into Michigan.

She wasn't the only vendor talking about Michigan. Among the 678
vendors populating the Las Vegas Convention Center exhibit floor,
there was an excitement about the potential of the Michigan market.

Cannabis Property Brokers of Michigan in Bloomfield Hills, which has
purchased 25 acres in Bay County, was hawking 22 parcels where people
who get coveted licenses from the state could grow up to 1,500
marijuana plants.

By Thursday afternoon, eight of the 22 parcels had been gobbled

"Michigan would be a massive market. It would definitely rank up there
with the top recreational markets," said Chris Walsh, editorial and
strategic development director of Marijuana Business Daily, which
tracks the marijuana market nationally and internationally. "You've
got a fairly big state, you could draw from other regions. It would be
a substantial market."

The state will transition to a fully regulated market next year that
will make medical marijuana more readily available through licensed
growing operations, processing facilities and dispensaries in
communities that decide to allow the businesses in their towns.

In addition, if Michigan voters approve full legalization of marijuana
for adult use next year, the state would become the second-largest
market, behind California, among the seven states and the District of
Columbia to legalize cannabis. California's market, which begins its
recreational market rollout in January, is expected to grow to $5
billion when it becomes fully mature in a few years, Walsh said.

In Michigan, what's expected now is a market that estimates $711
million in medical marijuana sales a year and $21 million in tax
revenue. If full legalization happens, that number is expected to
surpass $1 billion sales a year. Colorado, the first state to fully
legalize marijuana, is about half the size of Michigan and is
projected to have more than $1.5 billion in sales of medical and
recreational marijuana this year.

Dulany, who splits her time between Michigan and Oregon, wants to
expand her business from the vaporizers to the growing and processing
business. She and her partner Chuck Senatore have bought land in the
state with the hope of getting a state license.

"We moved back to Michigan to do the land acquisition so we we can
start expanding the brand," she said. "We've gotten approval from
townships, so on Dec. 15, we'll be able to apply for licenses for our
facilities and hopefully, we'll be a lot bigger than we are in Oregon."

She doesn't need a license to sell the vaporizer in Michigan, but she
will need one to make the marijuana infused products -- called
Aardvark extracts -- that are used in the vaporizer.

Whiteman, the founder and owner of Wana Edibles in Denver, hopes to
partner with a Michigan company to produce and sell her brand of
marijuana-infused products, including their best-selling gummies.

"I think when you have a state like Michigan that has a large
population, it can be self-sustaining as a business opportunity just
in the medical marijuana market," she said. "But if you get a foothold
in the business and then it goes recreational, the market grows

It's not legal to ship marijuana products across state lines, so
Whiteman's company is looking for a Michigan partner with whom it
could share its established branding and packaging, recipes, training
and technical support. The partner would be its "brand

"We started the company in 2010 so we're one of the original companies
in Colorado," she said. "We're also in Oregon and Nevada and about to
expand to Illinois, Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maryland and
we're already in discussions with potential partners in Michigan."

The company will do $14 million in sales in Colorado alone in 2017,
Whiteman said, "and that's a lot of gummies."

MJ Biz Daily's Walsh said Michigan's new regulated market will only
help the state.

"California and Michigan are the last two standing and they need to
fall. These are the last unregulated markets where the industries have
operated in this weird legal gray area, where they're almost violating
the law," he said. "But in the long run, if they can survive this
transition, it's going to be better for everyone."

Organizers of the petition drive to get the recreational legalization
issue on the November 2018 ballot were in Las Vegas also, drumming up
support for the upcoming campaign. The group, the Coalition to
Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, has seen a renewed interest in the
Michigan market.

"I'm here to help with building the coalition and fundraising. There's
a ton of support for this and we're going to have people and groups
from all over the country who are going to support our effort," said
Robin Schneider, finance director for the coalition."Now that we've
gotten the number of signatures and are ready to turn them into the
state, we'll find financial support coming from all over the country.

Applications for five categories of licenses -- growers, processors,
testers, secure transporters and dispensaries -- will become available
from the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs on Dec.
15. The Michigan Medical Licensing Board is expected to begin awarding
licenses in first quarter of 2018.

Altogether, three states are expected to have marijuana legalization
on the ballot in 2018 -- New Jersey and Michigan for recreational
adult use and Oklahoma for medical use.

Organizers of the petition drive to put the issue of legalizing
marijuana for all adult users on the 2018 November ballot in Michigan
expect to turn in signatures to the Secretary of State on Monday.

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has set the license
application fee for each of the five medical marijuana licenses at
$6,000. That amount will be on top of up to $5,000 that communities
can charge for their permits and the regulatory assessment the state
will charge that will run from $10,000 to $57,000.
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MAP posted-by: Matt