mLive reports that Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is dissolving the state-appointed Medical Marihuana Licensing Board that governs licenses for medical marijuana businesses with a new Marijuana Regulatory Agency:
In an executive order Whitmer signed Friday, she put the control of medical marijuana licenses in the hands of staff in a new agency within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
The board has been criticized for its slow pace in reviewing and approving medical marijuana license applications — especially as licensed provisioning centers have faced a shortage of product to sell from licensed growers in January.
“This executive order will eliminate inefficiencies that have made it difficult to meet the needs of Michigan’s medical marijuana patients,” Whitmer said in a statement. “All elements of this agency have been designed to serve and better protect Michigan residents, and I’m eager to have a unified effort across state departments to make sure this process runs effectively and efficiently. I appreciate the productive input I’ve received on this important issue, including from Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.”
Whitmer’s move was applauded by the former LARA director, Shelly Edgerton, who departed at the end of 2018.
“The volunteer board took on a monumental lift to get this program going, but in the short time frame the program has been running, we have not seen the expected volume of licensees entering the market,” said Edgerton, now an attorney at Dykema. “With this EO (executive order), the licensing process will be more efficient and allow more applicants into the space. I applaud Governor Whitmer for recognizing the need to expedite the regulated market for patient care and safety.”
…Attorney General Dana Nessel also supports Whitmer’s action and issued this statement: “A dedicated state agency that can administer the functions and responsibilities under the medical and recreational (adult-use) marijuana statutes will create numerous efficiencies, including faster processing of marijuana applications, and better serve medical marijuana patients and the developing industry.”
Whitmer’s action appears to override the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act of 2016, which stipulates that an appointed board be responsible for licensing.
The board, appointed by former Republican Governor Rick Snyder in 2017, contained five members — three Republicans, two Independents and no Democrats. Its chairman, Republican Rick Johnson, was once the speaker of the Michigan House and spent a decade as a registered lobbyist in Lansing.