marijuana dispensary

In this Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, photo, a clerk reaches for a container of marijuana buds for a customer at Utopia Gardens, a medical marijuana dispensary, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Citing 'Inefficiencies,' Gov. Whitmer Reshapes Pot Licensing In Michigan

March 01, 2019 - 12:19 pm

LANSING (WWJ/AP) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is abolishing Michigan's medical marijuana licensing board and folding its functions into a newly created agency.

The Democrat issued an executive order Friday to create the Marijuana Regulatory Agency, saying order will "eliminate inefficiencies that have made it difficult to meet the needs of Michigan's medical marijuana patients."

The new agency also will oversee licensing in the recreational marijuana market after voters' approval last fall of recreational pot use.

“All elements of this Agency have been designed to serve and better protect Michigan residents," the governor said, "and I’m eager to have a unified effort across state departments to make sure this process runs effectively and efficiently."

"She's basically eliminating the five-member panel and moving all of the power and authority to make decisions on licensing and the like into her Department of Licensing and Regulation," WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reported.

The board has been criticized as too slow to issue licenses to businesses following a law that instituted a tiered regulatory system.

"The moves comes at a time when the board is trying to get up to speed on regulating the medical marijuana industry and gearing up for the new (recreational) pot industry as well," Skubick said. "The governor obviously concluding that her department can do a better job than this board that was chaired by the Republican Speaker of the House Rick Johnson."

In a statement, Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton praised the governor's action.

“This executive order establishes a clear framework that will allow our officers to be fair and more consistent when it comes to marijuana enforcement,” Clayton said. "The new system allows for more predictability, which will ultimately enhance public safety and keep our communities safe.” 

Whitmer's order will take effect April 30 unless it is rejected by the Republican-led Legislature. While it's unclear what GOP state lawmakers will do, Whitmer noted she received "productive input" from Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey on the issue.