Pubdate: Tue, 22 Oct 2019
Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Copyright: 2019 C.E.G.W./Times-Shamrock
Author: Larry Gabriel


Last year, after the vote to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana in 
Michigan was certified, people lined up outside provisioning centers with 
the expectation that they would be allowed to buy some in those locations 
- - only to find that a state medical certification was still required.

Nearly a year later, folks are still wondering when they'll be able to 
walk into a store and buy some weed.

The conventional answer to that question is probably sometime early in 
2020. That's based on the Marijuana Regulatory Agency's stated plan to 
start taking applications from businesses that already have medical 
marijuana business licenses this fall. MRA people have said that they will 
process these applications with dispatch. And since these already 
medically licensed businesses have already gone through the rigorous 
licensing process, it should be quicker and easier than the first time around.

But when you really look at what's going on, it looks like there may
be a long wait before any appreciable adult-use commerce takes place. Even 
as more and more medical marijuana provisioning centers open up, owners 
still complain that there aren't enough quality provisions for their 
shelves. When considering adult-use, with a market possibly 10 times that 
of medical marijuana, where is the supply going to come from?

All the currently licensed growers are growing medical marijuana,
including caregivers, who are authorized to grow medical marijuana for 
patients. It's questionable if caregiver-grown flowers can be sold at all 
in the licensed adult-use system. For a while, caregivers could sell 
overstock to provisioning centers, but the MRA stopped that in June. 
Besides, whether the source is licensed producers or caregivers, it's all 
medical, and none of that can be sold as recreational pot.

"The MRA rules say if the department decides to allow medical
marijuana to be transferred over as adult-use, they can allow it,"
says Robin Schneider, executive director of the Michigan Cannabis
Industry Association. "However, as long as there is a shortage in
medical products, they have said publicly that they do not intend to
take products away for medical patients unless there is a surplus."

So far there's no surplus in sight. In fact, over the summer, there
was a marijuana drought. And anyone who intends to grow licensed
recreational marijuana is several months away from having anything on
hand to sell. There aren't even any recreational grow licenses
granted. A more accurate answer to when Michigan adults will be able
to walk into a store and buy some legal marijuana is "who knows?"

"One of the big questions is the supply - there continues to be a
remarkable shortage of product," says Mort Meisner, CEO of GROW
Cannabis Marketing in Royal Oak. "They've got to get their act
together on availability."

That means the immediate look of the state marijuana system is going
to look pretty much like it does now for most of the next year. It's
not going to be marijuana everywhere at any appreciable level higher
than is already the case. That also means a lot of recreational users will 
continue to use the traditional method of procuring the stuff - the black 

"It's just failed leadership," says Meisner, whose clients include
provisioning centers, growers, processors, and other

Leadership is part of the mix, although it's hard to point an accusing 
finger at the MRA folks. For one thing, they're bureaucrats and 
administrators who have to follow the laws and do what they're told by the 
politicians. For another thing, they just got on the job last spring after 
the bureau was created by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. A lot of the dysfunction 
was set forth by the previous licensing board.

And for one last thing, although there's a new governor with a new
attitude in Lansing, most of this state legislature is the same
Republican majority bunch who would not budge on marijuana
legalization before voters forced the issue a year ago. The whole idea of 
expeditiously making this work would not occur to most of them.

That kind of thinking is reflected in the hundreds of Michigan
municipalities where authorities have declared there will be no
marijuana facilities of any kind allowed.

Come Jan. 1, 2020, the New Year will not bring a new dawn to the
Michigan marijuana scene like it will in Illinois, where some 100
stores start selling recreational pot. So what are recreational
marijuana users to do if they can't go to the store and buy some weed?

Schneider reminds folks that the legalization law allows folks to grow 
their own - which is a fix if you thought about it several months ago.

Anyone who looks at growing as a solution is in a similar situation as the 
licensed growers who are not getting to market yet. It takes
months to get products out, not to mention that it takes money,
expertise, and effort to create an indoor growing environment that
produces steadily. And the outdoor environment is not an option during winter.

There are a lot of one-off events that make access easier. The
increasingly popular High Times Cannabis Cups are marijuana festivals 
where adults can stock up on supplies. Other events, such as upcoming 
Halloween parties, 420 festivals, and the venerable Ann Arbor Hash Bash, 
are models of how adults can find and procure marijuana. The problem is 
that one has to wait for something like that to take place rather than 
heading over to the local store to pick some up.

Unless some kind of rules change comes up, such as letting caregivers back 
into the legal exchange, we're pretty much looking at the same marijuana 
scene we have now for most of the next year. Now might be a good time to 
consider getting a medical marijuana card. Or, a prudent consumer might 
think about dropping a few seeds in the ground come spring. That way, come 
next fall, you might be sitting prettier than the state supply system.
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MAP posted-by: Matt