Michigan regulators should not be allowed to create new cannabis licenses without going through a legislative process, says the trade association representing the state’s largest cultivators, starting with the creation of the Class A Microbusiness license, a new license type that’s been winding through the rulemaking process since last August.
“The [Marijuana Regulatory Agency] is responsible for regulating Michigan’s regulated cannabis market,” said Shelly Edgerton, board chair of the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturer’s Association. “It was not created to write laws, and this proposal attempts to do just that. That is the role of lawmakers in the Michigan Legislature.”
Edgerton and MCMA, who together represent more than half of the state’s cultivation capacity – hundreds of thousands of square feet of canopy – have written a letter to legislative leaders asking they put a stop to the new rule.
The concept of the Class A Microbusiness license arose from discussions with the MRA’s Social Equity Advisory Workgroup. Michigan’s current Microbusiness license is limited to 150 plants, which some operators say is too small to be profitable. Today there are only seven operating Microbusinesses. Class A would allow 500 plants.
MRA spokesperson David Harns was unequivocable on his agency’s authority.
“When they passed the ballot initiative in 2018, Michigan voters were clear that the MRA must take into account the needs of businesses of all sizes. This new license type respects the will of the voters by supporting opportunities for small business owners to compete in the cannabis industry,” said Harns.
MCMA’s Edgerton was once the head of the MRA’s predecessor agency, points out Rick Thompson, executive director of Michigan NORML, and she should know better that the agency has already created multiple new license types through rulemaking.
“This is an incorrect claim from a desperate organization. This is the latest in a series of attacks on the MRA lately. It does not bode well for a trade association to start attacking a state’s regulatory agency,” he said.
The new microbusiness license type is nearing the end of the rulemaking process. Before obtaining final approval, a license must pass allow the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Review (JCAR) to comment, or veto the rule over 15 session days. Because of Covid concerns, the Legislature has held few in-person session days, and so far just over a dozen days have passed. Once the 15 day mark is hit, and if JCAR has no comment, then the rule heads to the state’s Office of the Great Seal in the Secretary of State’s office for final approval.