MRA executive director Andrew Brisbo. (File photo)

Cannabis business license application and approval is moving at a swift pace in Michigan, according to quarterly statistics announced Thursday morning by the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA). In the agency’s first ever video conference-based quarterly meeting, MRA Director Andrew Brisbo announced that as of June 13 during 2020 the agency received 882 medical license applications and processed 916 applications. The agency also received 715 adult-use applications and processed 559. 

“We continue to see a lot of applications coming in, with a little slowing down during the pandemic,” said Brisbo.

During that same period, the agency has also received 339 social equity applications, with 201 approved, 114 denied, and two licenses issued to social equity qualifiers.

Michigan cannabis licensing undergoes a three-step process. Pre-qualification by the MRA, site approval by a local municipality, and then finally license approval by the MRA.

On June 1, attempting to increase the number of social equity applicants, MRA issued broad new rules expanding the number of communities that qualify for social equity support, from 41 to 184. Applicants are also no longer required to currently live in disproportionately affected communities, and now only need to have lived in those communities for five of the last ten years cumulatively, rather than consecutively. MRA also reduced application fees for social equity applicants so they now have a possible 75% reduction in fees.

“We look at barriers that were preventing individuals from qualifying to getting to the point of applying for licensure and I think some of these changes will allow more individuals to qualify and ease that process of getting from the point of qualifying to getting to the point of submitting licensure applications,” said Brisbo.

Brisbo also encouraged viewers to review the agency’s new permanent administrative rules for marijuna facilities, issued Monday, June 22. The new ruleset does not have an end-date, whereas the earlier emergency rules were set to lapse in July.

Brisbo, who was the only substantive agency speaker during the entire meeting, also said the entire agency staff is now working from home and has had some temporary layoffs. Yet, “We’re still engaging in all our business practices and meeting all of our metrics and ensuring we’re completing all of those tasks as soon as possible.”Brisbo said a recording of the complete meeting should be posted on the agency website soon.

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Editor Mike is an itinerate reporter, recovering political consultant, and strategy game devotee.