Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay home, stay safe order has closed all non-essential businesses, but Michigan’s emerging cannabis industry is allowed to stay open, according to the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA). As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, medical and recreational marijuana businesses are operating under new precautionary regulations in response to the health crisis.

Marijuana dispensary stock photo

In Michigan, licensed cannabis retailers can remain open, as long as medical and recreational sales only occur through delivery or curbside service. Many customers have underlying medical conditions, so companies have to be very careful in serving those patients. Until further notice, any in-store transactions are prohibited.

Why is Cannabis Considered Essential?

Some may find themselves confused, humored, or even irritated that licensed cannabis businesses are considered essential. However, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order clarifies that residents may pick up important prescriptions; which is cannabis for medical marijuana card holders in Michigan. Adult-use cannabis is no exception either.

“Studies have shown that cannabis can reduce anxiety and stress, and we believe continued access to this product during this time is pertinent,” said Robin Schneider, executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association (MiCIA). “More importantly, patients with cancer, AIDS, chronic pain, seizures, and pediatric patients have reduced or replaced pharmaceuticals, including opiates, with medical cannabis.”   

Transformation from Illicit to Essential

Making cannabis accessible amid the pandemic demonstrates a transformation from the outdated image of an illicit product, to being included with other businesses deemed critical to the state’s well-being.

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Michigan medical marijuana laws and adult-use state law still apply, however; you can purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces at one time, and an adult (21 years old or older) may possess up to 10 ounces and grow up to 12 marijuana plants in one’s residence.

Other states such as Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Florida are also identifying cannabis as an essential service during their stay-at-home orders surrounding COVID-19. Transformation from illegal to essential demonstrates how mainstream cannabis has become in a short amount of time.

Legal in Michigan, But How About in the United States?

Not too long ago, cannabis use and sales, whether for medical use of marijuana or recreational purposes, were crimes. Now, many jurisdictions will keep medical marijuana dispensaries open as “essential” businesses, similar to pharmacies and grocery stores. The passage of legislation regarding medical and recreational cannabis use has drastically changed the way we look at and think about the industry.

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Since marijuana is still federally considered a schedule I drug, will the federal government follow in these footsteps when this is over?

Brianna DiSalvio (17 Posts)

Brianna is the Cannabis Legal Group Paralegal. She began her legal career at Howard & Howard Law Firm where she assisted attorneys and paralegals with business and commercial litigation matters in an administrative assistant role. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Hope College and her Paralegal Studies certification from Oakland Community College. Brianna is responsible for client relations, assisting with various stages of state and municipal licensing, and works to ensure research and document support are carried out effectively and efficiently for our cannabis clients.


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