Obtaining a Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) license is a complex and comprehensive process. All applicants must submit a Step 1 application and receive approval (aka “pre-qualification”) from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Step 1 requires that each applicant undergo an extensive financial and criminal background check, which includes full disclosure of every business interest, bank account and real property interest.
With such an extensive amount of disclosed information and paperwork that needs to be obtained, submitted and reviewed, the Step 1 application process takes a considerable amount of time to get to the “finish” line. However, obtaining Step 1 approval/pre-qualification is only the beginning.
If you and your company don’t surround yourselves with the right team of professionals and experts, you’re setting your company up to experience delays in obtaining a license. Additionally, spending unnecessary time, money and resources in process could position your business to fail from the start.
Requirements for a MMFLA License Beyond Step 1 Approval
In order to obtain an MMFLA license, every applicant must also:
- Acquire a property interest (a lease, purchase agreement, or deed) for a location in a municipality.
- Obtain local approval from that municipality.
- Receive state’s approval of the facility and the company’s operations.
Each stage comes with its own risks and uncertainty, especially given the legal landscape and regulatory requirements at the local, state and federal level. Moreover, it’s important that every hopeful applicant and future licensee seek out individuals who possess the proper expertise and core competencies. This is especially necessary with assisting throughout the entire process and reducing the likelihood of licensing delays.
Why You Need an Attorney
Our services and consultation can be crucial in navigating the applicable laws, local ordinances, administrative rules and more that pertain to your facility and its operations. Our understanding of the local and state licensing processes— municipal ordinance review, application preparation, and planning commission/special land use hearings—can be vital to the success of your company. Additionally, we assist in drafting the required narratives for the Step 2 MMFLA license application, which includes the following:
- Facility Plan
- Technology Plan
- Marketing Plan
- Inventory & Recordkeeping Plan
- Staffing Plan
Attorneys also create plans that are tailored specifically to your facility and business operations, rather than simply reiterating the minimum requirements in the law.
Cautions of Hiring an Attorney
In an evolving industry which has a brand new licensing and regulatory system, more often than not there will be several unanswered questions. Your facility requires legal advice from an attorney to ensure your company is in the best position to execute its business plan.
However, an attorney’s advice can only go so far. As with any professional, there are certain areas of the law that an attorney specializes in, and there are other topics that, while he or she may have a passing knowledge on the subject area, would be better left to other professionals who possess the requisite skill and knowledge for the task at hand.
Additionally, there are numerous reasons why your company should seek out and hire a skilled architect and engineer. Essentially, they’ll assist in designing and constructing the facility to be fully compliant with the MMFLA and other rules and regulations.
Why You Need a Architect/Engineer
Architects, engineers, general contractors, etc. need to interpret the laws and rules that apply to your specific facility’s design and construction. A skilled architect/engineer will possess the skills and knowledge through their education and training. This will assist with the physical facility and the various different code provisions/requirements for your situation. In layman’s terms, architects and engineers fill the gaps that an attorney may not be able to address.
The MMFLA and its administrative rules contain bare-bones descriptions of facility design and construction requirements, such as:
- Compliance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 1 (“Fire Code”).
- Diagram of the facility.
- Detailed floor plan and layout, including:
- Dimensions of the facility including interior and exterior rooms.
- Maximum storage capabilities.
- Number of rooms.
- Dividing structures.
- Fire walls.
- Entrances and exits.
- Locations of hazardous material storage.
- Quantities of hazardous materials, such as chemical, flammable/combustible liquids and gases, and the expected daily consumption of the hazardous materials.
- Means of egress, including, but not limited to, delivery and transfer points.
- Construction details for structures and fire-rated construction for required walls.
- Building structure information.
- Building type information.
- Compliance with the Stille-DeRossett-Hale Single State Construction Code Act and other applicable electrical/plumbing requirements.
Cautions of Hiring an Architect/Engineer
Hiring an architect/engineer is essential to translate the laws and rules into the required facility drawings, renderings and eventually the facility’s construction.
If your company doesn’t retain the assistance of a knowledgeable architect and engineer, expect delays in the licensing process. If the drawings are not submitted correctly in your municipal and state applications, it’ll take time for an inexperienced architect/engineer to correct the deficiencies. Additionally, if the facility is not constructed in compliance, it will take time and significant resources to correct the issues.
In other words, your company should be cautious and take time selecting an architect/engineer. Therefore, your company should vet each potential hire to determine exactly how familiar the individual or firm is with the design and construction of a Michigan cannabis facility. The more familiar the architect/engineer is with the MMFLA, the more streamlined your application process will be and the less deficiencies will appear in the drawings or with the facility itself.
What to Prepare For When Applying for an MMFLA License
The cannabis laws and regulations at the federal, state, and local levels are a complex and comprehensive set. You and your company should consult with individuals and companies that possess different skill sets based on varying tasks. Establishing and operating a cannabis facility requires a plethora of different competencies. Therefore, it’s impossible to expect extensive detail, expertise and knowledge from only a few sources or individuals.
A dedicated team of business-savvy entrepreneurs, attorneys, architects/engineers and other industry experts is vital. Through them, your company will be better positioned to acquire a cannabis license without unnecessary delays. Moreover, you’ll have a better chance of maintaining a MMFLA license in the near and long-term future.