an illustration of a marijuana leaf for adult-use marijuana in Michigan

Adult-Use Marijuana: Just 100 Days Away

Michigan, get ready! The commercialization of adult-use marijuana nears. Last November, when the voters approved the ballot initiative for marijuana use by adults aka Michigan Regulatory and Taxation Marijuana Act (MRTMA), commercialization seemed far off but now it’s less than 100 days away.

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) of the Department of Licensing and Regulation (LARA) recently issued Emergency Rules for regulating and controlling aspects of the adult-use business. They then indicated that, if all went well, MRA would begin accepting applications for MRTMA licenses on November 1, 2019. Not long now. Current MMFLA licensees are chomping at the bit to get applications submitted and licenses issued within a short period after the application window opens at MRA.

Adult-use products could be available for the holidays this year.

Why is all this important for members of CARWM? * There is a tremendous demand for locations for operations to serve the adult-use business. Prospective licensees need to find industrial and agricultural properties for growers and processors under both MMFLA and MRTMA. Both laws mandate that they locate facilities in zones allowing industrial and agricultural uses. Thena person lighting a joint because adult-use marijuana is about to legal in Michigan there are the retail outlets: the “Provisioning Center” under MMFLA and the “Marijuana Retailer” under MRTMA. Commercial districts are targets. As we’ve seen in Grand Rapids, the main business thoroughfares have had multiple properties placed under contract as possible sites for the medical marijuana operations at this time. Keep in mind, MRTMA future uses. Eight locations in Traverse City alone in a two-block area on Front Street.

The prices that potential licensees are paying for these locations is enormous compared to current assessed values. Just saw that a fully licensed, non-operating Provisioning Center of 4,000 square feet in the River Rouge area has an asking price of 18 million dollars.

There are currently 251 MMFLA licensees (99 growers and 125 provisioning centers). Keep in mind that in the former category, several of the licensees are large entities and hold numerous Class C licenses (up to 1,500 plants per license). Those license fees are $66,000 per year. If you stack 10 of those licenses in one location for up to 15,000 plants, that’s a big operation. This stacking is the likely future as this marijuana business develops in Michigan.

The trick for prospective licensees and realtors is to find a municipality which allows some form of marijuana business enterprise to be located within its boundaries. Under the MMFLA, the key is “opt-in.” That means that we started with the 1,773 municipalities in the State not allowing any operations. That law gives each municipality the right to carve out its own code if it wanted to let operations for medical marijuana businesses within the municipal boundaries. Until recently, less than 120 municipalities had opted in. That’s expanding, though, as community leaders realize the benefits of these businesses.

Under MRTMA, it’s the opposite. Every municipality is in unless it chooses to “opt-out” for adult-use marijuana. Most every municipality that has addressed the decision has opted out or will do so by November 1. If they miss the deadline and MRA starts receiving applications, they’re in, and they won’t be able to carve out an ordinance. Many of the municipalities have stated they want to write their own ordinance and are opting out first, taking time to see what the Emergency Rules provide as well as what they want in their community. As your clients look for places in every municipality in Michigan, remember that every ordinance is different. Every municipality may write its own rules as to types of licensed establishments it will allow and numbers. In the case of the City of Grand Rapids, it developed a system for scoring and a draw for locations. There are a 2,000-foot radius buffer zone and another 1,000-foot radius buffer from “sensitive areas.” Businesses and realtor have to know what every municipality wants. Nowadays, many are holding drawings, so applications for municipal preliminary licenses have due dates.

city of grand rapids at night where adult-use marijuana is under consideration

With MRTMA there are new types of additional licenses which business people will be looking at using. There’s the licensed designated consumption establishment (i.e.: smoking lounges). Will a convenience store want to add it? What about a bar owner with an additional location for the smoking lounge? Then there’s the temporary marijuana event license. Instead of Celebration on the Grand, how about Cannabis Celebration on Calder Plaza or in a mall parking lot or an open field? Then there’s the new Microbusiness for up to 150 plants for state residents who are not now MMFLA licensed.

There are lots of opportunities ahead for CARWM realtors in all areas of Michigan in this burgeoning field. Stay up to date on municipal requirements and work on finding those primo locations for your clients.

*Ben Wrigley wrote this blog for members of Commercial Alliance of Realtors West Michigan for their website.