Michigan State Cannabis License Approval vs. City/Municipality Cannabis License Approval

Cannabis has become big business in Michigan in a very short period of time. While the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act was passed in 2018, the first sale of recreational marijuana didn’t take place in the state until December of 2019. 

In the first full year of recreational marijuana sale in 2020, overall sales totaled more than $950 million. One year later, that number exceeded $1 billion for 2021, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency reported.

It’s clear that cannabis has become big business in Michigan, and it’s expected to grow at considerable rates in coming years, too. This fact is attracting a lot of people to the industry who are looking to cash in on what is a completely new industry.

If you want to get in on the cannabis sales game, there are rules and regulations you must follow. Below, we’ll discuss cannabis license approval at both the state and municipality level.

Types of Licenses Available

Michigan state law provides for a few different licenses related to cannabis. So, the first step in getting license approval is to figure out which license you want to apply for. 

There are various six different categories of licenses to which you can apply. These include …

  • Grower (Class A): The licensing fee of $1,2004,000 will allow businesses to grow as much as 5100 plants. They can be sold to processors or retail cannabis stores.
  • Grower (Class B): The licensing fee of $6,000 will allow businesses to grow as much as 1,000 plants.
  • Grower (Class C): The licensing fee of $24,000 will allow businesses to grow as much as 1,500 plants.
  • Microbusiness: The licensing fee of $8,000 allows owners to grow as much as 150 plants, then process what they grow and finally sell it directly to legal adults. It’s a way to vertically integrate a cannabis business in Michigan.
  • Consumption establishment: A licensing fee of $1,000 allows people to operate social clubs that welcome people to use marijuana while inside. In most cases, the clubs are restricted to people who are at least 21 years old, and the establishment typically can’t sell alcohol or food.
  • Event organizer: A licensing fee of $1,000 allows organizers to hold temporary events revolved around marijuana. Some of these events have entrants who compete for various prizes, while others are conferences.
  • Temporary event: For a fee, people who hold an event organizer license may hold an event that allows for the consumption and sale of cannabis products. Every day the event is held, the licensee must pay a $500 fee. If cannabis will be sold, then the fee goes up by another $500 per day, plus $500 for every person who’s authorized to sell there.
  • Testing facility: The licensing fee of $25,000 allows for people to open cannabis testing facilities specifically for recreational usage.
  • Marijuana Processor: The licensing fee of $24,000 will allow businesses to process marijuana into its various allowed bi-products such as an oil or edible.
  • Marijuana Retailer: The licensing fee of $15,000 will allow businesses to sell all allowed marijuana products.
  • Marijuana Secure Transporter: The licensing fee of $15,000 will allow the license holder to transport marijuana to other state approved businesses.

One thing to note is that Michigan changed its state law in regard to marijuana licensing. In early 2022, the state dropped a requirement that a licensee must first hold a medical marijuana license to apply for a recreational usage license. Now, prospective license holders can apply directly to receive a recreational license.

How to Get a Michigan State Cannabis License?

Applying for and receiving a Michigan state cannabis license is essentially a two-step process.

Step one is the pre-qualification process. A $6,000 fee must be paid to the State of Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency to start the process.

Pre-qualification involves submitting an application to Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Once that is done, officials from LARA will conduct a background check on all applicants for the license, including both the primary applicant and any supplemental applicant.

If you are approved in pre-qualification, you’ll be allowed to search for a facility where your business will operate. The facility must be fully secured before the second step can be started, which includes applying for the full state cannabis license.

During this step, MRA officials conduct an inspection of your facility. They’ll also examine local laws and regulations, your company’s financial statements and prospectus and information about your employees.

If all goes well, you’ll be approved for a Michigan state cannabis license. To formally get your license, you’ll have to pay the initial licensing fee, which will vary according to the type of cannabis business you’re opening. You also must pay a renewal fee each year to keep the license active.

How to Get a Municipality Cannabis License in Michigan?

Step two in the process of gaining approval for a Michigan state cannabis license is finding and securing a facility for your business. You won’t be able to just choose whatever facility is up for sale or rent, though.

Michigan’s cannabis law allows local municipalities to set their own rules in regard to businesses in the marijuana industry. Some municipalities only allow certain types of cannabis businesses — either medical or recreational, for instance. Others allow all types of cannabis businesses, while some don’t allow any at all.

Generally speaking, if a municipality has laws that allow recreational marijuana facilities to operate, they probably also allow medical marijuana facilities to operate there, too.

The same is not necessarily true the other way around. For example, Acme Township in Grand Traverse County allows for medical marijuana facilities but not recreational marijuana facilities. 

State Laws in Regard to Municipal Licenses

Michigan state law set the parameters for what municipalities were allowed to do in regard to providing for the operation of cannabis businesses within their borders.

First and foremost, the state put it in each municipality’s hands to decide whether they wanted to “opt in” to allowing processors, secure transporters, provisioning centers, growers and/or safety compliance centers to be located there. If a municipality decides to opt in, they must pass an ordinance that not only permits but regulates the facilities.

Municipalities do have some freedom in terms of what they can include in the ordinance, such as:

  • Type: They can authorize multiple types of cannabis facilities or only one.
  • Number: They can limit how many facilities can operate there, and how many of each specific type of facility.
  • Fee: They can charge an additional $5,000 fee to every person receiving a cannabis license.
  • Supplemental ordinances: They can enact additional ordinances that are related to the cannabis businesses, such as zoning regulations that prohibit facilities to be located within a certain distance from a school, for instance.

What municipalities don’t have the freedom to do is set regulations or rules regarding either the pricing or purity of the cannabis being processed/sold in their municipality. They also cannot implement laws and regulations that conflict or interfere with state-level regulations in regard to the licensing of cannabis facilities.

Each municipality may have their own unique application process for receiving a license. So, make sure you contact the local government of the municipality. in which you wish to operate a cannabis facility to get more information.