Recreational cannabis sales can begin on Dec. 1 in Michigan after the state permitted producers to sell half of their inventories to adult-use dispensaries.

The legal market for recreational marijuana was not expected to begin until Jan. 1, but the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency has decided to speed up the process. It issued a bulletin announcing that existing growers, processors and provisioning centres can “transfer” up to 50% of marijuana products earmarked for medical sales to the new recreational market.

This is only possible for firms that have secured adult-use licenses and in communities that have decided to permit recreational sales.

The state legalized recreational cannabis in 2018 after the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana passed with 56% of the vote. However, communities were allowed to opt out, and around 70% have done so.

Many simply wanted to delay the process while waiting to see the final framework laid out by the Marijuana Regulatory Agency, but some communities simply oppose adult-use cannabis dispensaries springing up.

Just 22 communities have adopted ordinances to allow recreational marijuana businesses, and they can now begin trading in a couple of weeks. A total of 41 medical cannabis stores have already pre-qualified for adult-use licenses and the Marijuana Regulatory Agency said it expects about a dozen licensees to be eligible to commence recreational sales by Dec. 1.

It expects it to be a slow burn as producers build out facilities, ramp up production and compile inventories in the months and years ahead.

The various metro areas of Detroit have opted out initially, so the legal industry will begin in smaller cities across the state. The Marijuana Regulatory Agency hopes it will gain momentum from there.

Some residents have reacted positively to the news that the legal industry will be expedited, as they are keen to put a dent in the black market. Yet some critics are concerned that state regulators are “taking medicine away from sick people and giving it to the recreational market”.