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Bipartisan package seeks to unify recreational and medicinal cannabis licensing

New Michigan legislation would combine licensing for medical and recreational marijuana retailers into one.

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It would mark a significant change for the current system, which requires businesses that serve both medical and recreational users to have separate licenses.

Representative Graham Filler (R-St. Johns) co-sponsors the package. He said times have changed since voters approved a medical marijuana ballot measure in 2008 and a recreational marijuana one in 2018.

“Recreation is 99% of the market or so. Essentially med is dead a little bit. And yet, people still have to buy specific licenses. We have a whole CRA division for med,” Filler said. “Let’s modernize. Okay?”

The new licensing system would take effect in March 2026.

At that point, previously awarded medical licenses that haven’t expired would receive new, generic titles. For example, a provisioning center would simply become a “marihuana retailer.”

Local governments would have a chance to block medical marijuana dispensaries from expanding their operations as long as they do so before the March 2026 deadline.

This isn’t the first attempt at re-working the state’s cannabis regulations. In 2021, legislation to do so faced stiff opposition from home caregivers.

Filler said an issue with that legislation was that it tried to do too much. He said this time around, lawmakers are keeping the bills limited in scope and working with activists and other stakeholders.

“In this one, the industry’s actually going to benefit. It’s going to be streamlined. So why would they push back on something that’s kind of a down-the-middle bipartisan push?” Filler said.

At the outset, the legislation could face two major challenges.

One being timing: lawmakers are on their summer break now and aren’t likely to take up many large pieces of legislation ahead of the November general election.

The second is a requirement that it receives a three-fourths supermajority vote to pass both chambers of the Legislature. That’s because it would amend laws that voters enacted through ballot initiatives.

Filler said he doesn’t expect Democrats having any problems understanding the issues that the bills are trying to address. Meanwhile, he said he believes Republicans in the narrowly split Legislature can get behind the policy too.

“I think I’ll be okay in the Republican caucus because I think words like modernization and efficiency, and cutting the red tape, streamlining the process … that’s how we speak, that’s what we think about,” Filler said



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