Marijuana merchants move ahead of Michigan law enforcers as state regulators work on licensing rules for recreational marijuana sales.
It's legit for adults to buy, possess, use and grow marijuana, thanks to last November's voter passage of Proposal 1 by a margin of 56% to 44% -- but Lansing bureaucrats still are creating a system to license and tax commercial growers, processors, transporters and retailers by next year. That doesn't keep eager entrepreneurs from setting up shop, Crain's Detroit Business finds.
"Illegal sales are plentiful," writes Dustin Walsh, who speaks with Detroit businessman Stuart Carter, owner of Utopia Gardens boutique at 6541 E. Lafayette Blvd. in the Islandview area. He's licensed to serve medical marijuana patients and awaits a recreational sales permit.
"There's still a lot of unlicensed dispensaries and they are advertising online to the public," Carter, 66, said. "It's questionable whether they are paying taxes and they certainly aren't being held to the same regulatory environment as we are. They are stealing business from the licensed dispensaries."
A medical marijuana dispensary license costs $66,000 and must pay for regular testing of its product, as well as maintaining a state-regulated sales tracking system.
Carter said he's counted 151 illegal delivery services and dispensaries advertising on websites like Weedmaps.com and says they are cutting into his bottom line.
It's a free-for-all during this interim period because "state and local prosecutors are not interested in entertaining cases involving the legal gray area of marijuana sales," Walsh explains.