We know the BCC have repeatedly asked Weedmaps to remove listings in California of cannabis retail businesses that aren’t legally registered and now it appears Michigan have had to do the same and don’t appear to be making much headway either.
M. Live reports
LANSING — Michigan officials hope Weedmaps, a popular advertising website for unlicensed marijuana businesses, stays true to its word and helps curb the proliferating marijuana black market.
Marijuana Regulatory Agency Director Andrew Brisbo said he’s been pressing Weedmaps to end advertising on its site by unlicensed operations that are in some ways indistinguishable from Michigan’s licensed marijuana businesses.
“So they have given me assurances that as of (Jan. 1) they’re no longer going to engage in contracts with businesses without validating they hold a state-level license,” Brisbo said during his presentation at an industry networking even in Detroit on Dec. 18. “So at this point, I’m taking them at their word … but we’ve seen a dramatic shift in their approach to that and their willingness to be cooperative.
“I think that they see ultimately that their bread and butter is the regulated market as well, as the regulated market starts to overtake the illicit market.”
A quick scan of businesses advertising on Weedmaps reveals many are not state-licensed.
When asked by email if it is the intent of Weedmaps to impose a licensing requirement for advertisers beginning Jan. 1, spokesman Travis Rexroad said, “That is, indeed, correct.” His response included the link to an August announcement that “U.S. retail advertisers” would, by late 2019, be required to include a state license number in their listings.
The black market is a daunting competitor to Michigan’s 300-plus and growing medical and recreational marijuana businesses that have to make their way through expensive and complicated bureaucratic hoops before ever making a dollar in the industry.
Stuart Carter, the owner of Utopia Gardens, a medical marijuana dispensary in Detroit, has been a staunch opponent of Weedmaps for more than a year.
He said he’s watched the number of unlicensed dispensaries or delivery services on the site increase from about 90 to 200 in the last year.
“I have specifically said in the past, and it stands true today, that Weedmaps is the gateway to the black market in Michigan,” Carter said. “They’re promoting organized crime because there are some very large organizations operating illegally in Michigan … and Weedmaps allows them to advertise without a state license.”
Carter said he personally reached out to Weedmaps and was told they intend to implement a license requirement for advertisements after Jan. 1.
“I’m skeptical,” Carter said, “but Mr. Brisbo says he think’s they’re going to, so everything I’ve heard points to that Weedmaps may become a good citizen.”
Brisbo says he’s also met with the Governor’s Office, Attorney General’s Office and state police regarding increased enforcement on black market marijuana businesses.