Two states are busy issuing recreational cannabis licenses, although one state just legalized cannabis, and the other is set to start in the new year.
On December 1, Michigan’s adult-use recreational cannabis market officially opened for business. The state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) started accepting recreational license applications on November 1. In mid-November, the MRA announced the state would launch recreational sales on December 1. As of this post, there are still 69 license applications pending. Licensing officials anticipate that they will approve close to a dozen new recreational adult-use businesses by the end of 2019.
The MRA issued cultivation and processing licenses to Exclusive Brands, a testing facility license to PSI Labs, and an event organizer permit to Real Leaf Solutions. Exclusive Brands, along with Greenstone Provisions and Arbors Wellness, can claim bragging rights as the first retailers in Michigan licensed to serve the adult-use market.
To ensure adequate supply in the adult-use market, licensed retailers that also hold medical marijuana licenses are permitted — at least for now — to transfer up to half their medical marijuana inventory to the adult-use marketplace. The caveat is that the transferred material must be at least 30 days old. Regulators anticipate that will help meet initial demand while licensed processors begin to create a new supply starting December 1, when the license took effect.
Illinois will launch recreational adult-use sales on January 1. The state has already issued licenses to 29 dispensaries — six in Chicago alone — that will serve the adult recreational market. Right now, there are 55 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. These medical licensees were eligible to apply for recreational retail licenses as well as apply to open a second location.
Illinois residents will be allowed to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana flower, up to five grams of cannabis concentrate products and edibles containing no more than 500mg of THC. Non-residents will be allowed to buy half those amounts.
The state allowed municipalities to decide on whether or not to allow recreational marijuana sales within their confines. The Chicago Tribune reported that this presents a problem: What to do when your adult-use dispensary license is granted in a community that has banned recreational cannabis sales? Adding to the complexity (and confusion), not all municipalities have decided on whether or not to allow adult-use recreational sales. As of the time of this writing, at least three of the 29 licensed recreational dispensaries are technically in communities that have banned retail sales.
Chicago’s mayor isn’t helping matters, either. Despite Chicago’s six recreational retail locations, the zoning plan set by Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, has banned recreational retail from most of the city, including most of the city’s Central Business District, which includes the stretch known as the ‘Magnificent Mile.’ The rest of the city has been subdivided into seven zones. It will permit up to 13 marijuana retail locations in each zone.