In December 2017, when Michigan began accepting applications for medical marijuana licenses and developing its medical marijuana regulations, the legal landscape was pretty unsettled. The mood of the medical marijuana licensing board was mercurial, which made things challenging for marijuana lawyers and their clients. The medical marijuana supply chain, as we observed, was out of order, and it felt like the entire Michigan cannabis industry was spinning its wheels. As attorneys, we like clarity, consistency, and precedent in the law. That’s the world we operate in and trust as we advise our clients.
The unsettled era in Michigan cannabis legalization was the worst of times.
The November mid-term elections gave us hope—a new governor who was pro-cannabis and, of course, the successful Prop 1 vote legalizing adult use. We rang in 2019 with renewed hope that the cannabis industry in Michigan was moving forward focused on the will of the citizens and the needs of medical patients. Shortly after the new year, Governor Whitmer eliminated the medical marijuana licensing board, and since then we’ve seen the new Marijuana Regulation Agency acting swiftly to approve license applications.
Are we in the best of times?
There are signs that we’re entering a new age for cannabis in Michigan. For one, higher education is taking notice, and respected Michigan colleges and universities are creating a curriculum for students interested in learning about the biology and business of medicinal plants (no, they don’t yet want to say cannabis). Jobs are another bright spot. We have long known that cannabis, like other agriculture enterprises, creates jobs. Beyond the obvious jobs associated with growing, there’s processing, testing and transporting of marijuana and retail sales which all require people to not only do the work but to keep the businesses compliant.
The outlook for cannabis jobs is quite strong but it’s hard to tell where exactly where Michigan might land as far as the number of cannabis business start-ups licensed and operating this year. Many municipalities are still making zoning decisions on both medical and recreational cannabis and others are facing citizen-driven ballot initiatives that may overturn previous opt-out decisions. It looks like from what Leafly projects in its jobs report from earlier this spring that Michigan will have 22,000 jobs supported by cannabis this year.
Cannabis Jobs in Michigan
Handgrown.jobs, a Grand Rapids-based firm that connects employers and candidates in the cannabis industry recently held a job fair attended by over 750 people (both employers and employees) interested in jobs in the cannabis industry. More than 2500 employment candidates have uploaded information to Handgrown.jobs’ secure website, where employers pay a fee to access the talent pool. Handgrown.jobs is yet one more bright spot in Michigan’s cannabis industry.
“Handgrown.jobs supports cannabis companies by providing over 122 industry-specific job descriptions, job titles, and job-specific interview questions,” said Matt Hoffmann, the company’s founder. “Within our online system, we created templates that are completely customizable so companies can add their company values or vision. Or they can use an existing template and post a job opening. We have created filters to assist hiring managers in finding specific candidates, like veterans, candidates who have previous and direct cannabis industry experience, and people who live in the neighborhood near a business location. All this information is available at a glance.”
What’s next in Michigan cannabis? We expect medical marijuana license applications to be reviewed and approved in a more timely manner and that the rules for recreational cannabis to be presented this summer. When these things happen, expect even more businesses like Matt’s to be created and come online and serve this ever-growing industry. It’s a great time to be a cannabis entrepreneur in Michigan!
Check out Matt’s Facebook page too, for videos and information about upcoming cannabis job fairs.