Marijuana in MI

Licensing process stalls recreational pot sales

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — You can legally possess and use recreational marijuana starting Dec. 6, but buying it legally will still be impossible.

Recreational marijuana businesses aren't expected to open until the year 2020, according to officials at the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. David Harns, a LARA spokesman, told 24 Hour News 8 that the application process for prospective marijuana businesses isn't ready yet.

"There is a lot of discussions that need to take place regarding how the industry will be regulated, regarding the rule set that would need to be promulgated," Harns explained over the phone Wednesday.

"The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will be the department that will promulgate the rules, that will decide how these licenses are awarded and how the process works and the application itself has to be designed," he continued.

Harns said that officials are on track to have applications ready by the state deadline: Dec. 6, 2019.

He said that there is "always a chance" that the applications will be ready and released before the deadline.

"We're not going to delay. If we have everything done early, we would obviously move forward with it," he said.

Harns said the legalization law gives first-year licensing preference to businesses that already have licenses for medical marijuana. He projected that marijuana businesses granted recreational licenses would start operating in the first quarter of 2020.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Michigan's Recreational Marihuana Law (PDF) | Marijuana penalties

"People will start using before the businesses open. There's enough marijuana out there now," Kent County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Corey Luce said. "It's out there now and people will have no trouble purchasing it or getting it somehow."

He noted that selling and buying drugs illegally will be a punishable offense.

And even after legalization is in effect, it will still be illegal to drive under the influence. Luce said the sheriff's department plans to have more patrol officers go through the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement program. National data shows that the trends of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol differ in some ways. ARIDE education is supposed to help officers spot drugged drivers.

"It's a 24/7 thing. People will wake up in the morning, they'll smoke (or) they'll eat an edible, whatever it may be," Luce said.

"Just don't take that risk," he added.

24 Hour News 8 is working to answer your questions about legal recreational marijuana. Send yours to ReportIt@woodtv.com.


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