There are opportunities for commercial growers under the MMFLA to have outdoor grow facilities in Michigan. The advantage of these facilities is that they don’t cost much to start up compared to indoor grows and they primarily feed the fastest growing cannabis sub-market—the market for processed marijuana goods such as edibles and extracts. The disadvantages are that they are often only allowed in out-of-the-way places and there is not much direct consumer demand for outdoor cannabis. Not every opportunity is right for everyone, but if you think commercial outdoor growing in Michigan is right for you, contact us today to discuss your options.
This is because the MMMA is a broadly applicable state law that preempts any local ordinance in conflict with it, while the MMFLA leaves it up to each local unit of government to decide what type of facilities to allow, how many of each type of facility to allow, and what additional requirements each MMFLA applicant must meet. The MMFLA gives broad authority to each locality, except that a local government cannot enact regulations on the price or purity of marijuana or otherwise contradict the state law.
There is another, often overlooked, option that allows for much less expensive build out, equipment and maintenance costs—outdoor growing. Growing cannabis outdoors in Michigan eliminates the need for a lot of costly equipment, eliminates the need to pay six or even seven figure annual utility bills, and eliminates the need for purchasing buildings at $100+ SF. It can also produce much higher yields, which means less time and effort and more bang for your buck.
As more and more start receiving their Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (“MMFLA”) pre-qualification, choosing a cost effective grow facility is becoming increasingly difficult. The best MMJ grow facilities in Michigan = are often quickly snapped up by real estate speculators, usually before a municipality decides to even “opt-in” to the MMFLA. As a Michigan cannabis business lawyer , I represent several of these real estate speculators, who use their advanced political knowledge, deep pockets, and even a bit of guess work, to tie up the best Michigan cannabis grow facility properties.
So where and how can I grow outdoors?
There are some downsides to growing medical marijuana outdoors in Michigan. The first and most obvious is that it gets pretty cold here in the winter, and our climate does not support a winter crop. Thus, while your yields and plants can be much bigger during the grow seasons, they are non-existent come January or February. The second downside is quality. Greenhouses suffer a similar weakness. As medical marijuana patients become more “sophisticated” when purchasing marijuana, and recreational purchasers all wanting “the best stuff”, the direct to consumer market for mid-quality marijuana isn’t strong.
On the state level, the rules that outdoor commercial medical marijuana grows must meet are minimal. One rule affecting outdoor cannabis grow facilities is the requirement that any grow facility must be located in an area zoned as industrial, agricultural, or unzoned. Another restriction is the requirement that there be a building adjacent to the cultivation area where drying, trimming and curing must take place. Other than that, and the requirement that the area must be fenced in and not visible to the public, the state-level restrictions are minimal.
There are currently only a handful of townships in Michigan that allow outdoor commercial cannabis cultivation under the MMFLA, all of which have certain land use requirements as well as additional restrictions on the outdoor grow facility. The municipal restrictions applicable to grows mostly fall into one of three categories. The first is setbacks—all municipalities that allow outdoor grows that we reviewed require that the outdoor facility be set back from the property lines—some only as much as 20 to 30 feet, others several hundred feet.
Growing Outdoors in Michigan
The MMFLA is not like the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) in this respect. The MMMA allows registered patients and caregivers to grow a limited number of plants outdoors, regardless of the municipality, provided that they meet the following requirements:
The second type of municipal restriction is lot size. Most municipalities require that the outdoor medical marijuana facility sit on property of at least one acre, and sometimes as much as five acres. Finally, at least one municipality places additional security restrictions over and above the MMFLA regulations, including requirements that the property be enclosed by fences at least eight feet high surrounding the entire facility as well as locked gates.
According to the new law, individuals are not allowed to grow marijuana:
Michigan is the first state in the Midwest to legalize recreational marijuana. Here are the other states where recreational marijuana is legal and when it was made legal:
Michigan is first in Midwest
In Alaska, households are allowed to grow 12 plants if at least two adults (21 and older) live in the household. In Michigan, any household with at least one adult 21 and older is allowed to grow 12 plants.
State issues marijuana sales licenses
Michigan is one of only two states, the other being Alaska, where households are allowed to grow 12 marijuana plants. Most of those states listed above allow only six plants per household.