Christmas has come early for cannabis consumers in Michigan who will be able to legally buy marijuana from licensed businesses as of December 1, 2019, instead of the expected time-frame of March or April, 2020.

This is because the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA), the department responsible for the legal cannabis market in Michigan, recently gave the green light for licensed medical dispensaries to shift up to half of their inventory to the recreational adult-use market.

This means that would-be cannabis customers in Michigan don’t have to wait until the first harvest next year to get their hands on marijuana, following a voter-approved 2018 ballot initiative on the legalization of adult-use marijuana.

Now, there will at least be a limited supply to help Michigan residents get through the harsh winter, with up to a dozen stores able to sell cannabis bud, extracts, and edibles from the beginning of December. The number of licensed recreational cannabis outlets will slowly increase throughout 2020.

“Similar to the medical market, we expect it to be a slow build-out as the production of plants and products increases. This will create an environment where businesses can supply the market as quickly as possible,” said MRA spokesperson David Harns.

The MRA’s advisory bulletin allows medical marijuana dispensaries to obtain equivalent licenses for the adult-use market, and to supply both medical and recreational cannabis from the same premises. Such establishments may transfer up to 50 percent of their medical cannabis stock for adult-use, so long as it has been in their business inventory for 30 days or more.

The MRA’s move is a surprise to some who expected a slower roll-out of legal adult-use marijuana after the 2020 harvest in order to ensure there isn’t a shortage in either the recreational or medical markets.

Amid speculation that the MRA’s decision may lead to a run on the market and a resulting shortage in Michigan’s dispensaries, David Harns assures that medical marijuana patients will not be left high and dry.

“We continued to watch how the medical supply was looking and asked ourselves what the best way to allow access to the adult-use market was,” Harns said. “By only allowing a transfer of 50 percent, it will keep production and sales on the medical side moving as well.”

One of the largest medical marijuana retailers in Michigan, Green Skies, is also confident that they will be able to handle the demands of both medical and recreational customers.

“We remain committed to a patient-focused medical approach. We will begin transferring product from medical to adult-use inventory in accordance with the requirements of the Marijuana Regulatory Agency, based on product availability and the needs of the medical and adult-use markets,” said Tommy Nafso, Green Skies’ General Counsel and Director of Compliance.

No adult-use licenses have yet been issued, but around a dozen medical cannabis dispensaries have received pre-approval notifications.

In any case, most residents in Michigan may face a long wait until an adult-use marijuana dispensary opens up within their vicinity. So far, only 22 jurisdictions have passed the necessary laws to allow cannabis stores, while 1,393 have decided to opt out.

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