The First Marijuana Microbusiness Is Gonna Launch in Michigan

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Michigan has taken an innovative approach to getting more entrepreneurs involved in the state’s marijuana industry—Microbusinesses, self-contained businesses that do not interact with the rest of the marijuana market. 

The state issued the first microbusiness license in September in the small town of Onaway in Presque Isle County, according to MLIve. The license gives the right for Sticky Bush Farms to grow up to 150 plants. The farm can use the plant to create oil, edibles, and other products for sale at a retail shop.

The new microbusiness is expected to add to a cannabis industry boom in Michigan since sales started in December 2019. August sales statewide approached $60 million for recreational cannabis and almost $50 million for medical marijuana. 

In July, recreational sales surpassed medical marijuana sales for the first time in the state. Projects vary, but some forecast sales in Michigan reaching as high as $1 billion-plus in 2021.

How the microbusiness license works

The most important aspect of the microbusiness license is that while it gets new owners into the industry, it requires them to stay self-contained. Microbusinesses can’t sell their products at other retailers or acquire marijuana or marijuana products from outside growers, processors, or retailers.

In that respect, Onaway seems the perfect model market. The small town of less than 1,000 people in northern Michigan is situated in a county with a population of less than 14,000. It’s a small market that seems tailormade for a microbusiness.

For businesses interested in earning a microbusiness license, Michigan provides an application online. While the state has granted about 300 licenses so far related to the cannabis industry, the license in Onaway is the first microbusiness license.

It’s been complicated.

While the state has an admirable goal of getting more people into the cannabis industry, getting a microbusiness up and running requires a complex mix of other license types. Local governments also must allow this mix of functions - growing, processing and retail - all at one location. 

Entrepreneurs who want to apply as a microbusiness should expect delays. Onaway City Manager Kelli Stockwell told MLive it took about a year to process the license and get everyone approved by the local officials. Town leaders have OK’d a second microbusiness, but no one has yet stepped forward to apply for the license.

Sticky Bush Farms is expected to open soon in a small industrial park outside the city center in November. Owner Ben Kolasa told MLive growing marijuana started as a hobby that he never expected to become a business. He said he’s invested hundreds of thousands into the business and paid about $19,000 in license fees to the state. 

Asked if earning the first microbusiness license was a big deal for him, Kolasa told MLive: “Nah, man. It’s rad as hell, but it wasn’t really something I was focused on. I was just trying to get my business up and moving." 

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