We recently issued an eBlast concerning Governor Whitmer’s February 11, 2022 Executive Reorganization Order, which will take effect on April 13, 2022, renaming the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) and consolidating within that Agency regulatory powers over the processing, distributing, and selling marijuana and hemp. At the time, there was very little information available regarding how the changes would be implemented, or what the impact might be on licensees – particularly those whose hemp operations were previously handled through the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

On March 4, 2022, Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) issued a bulletin trying to shed additional light on what the impact of the reorganization would mean. That bulletin reiterated that “the MRA has no plans to make changes that would materially affect the operations of hemp processors and will pro-actively communicate with licensees if that were to change.” It also provided a hyperlink to a list of frequently asked questions regarding the new regulatory framework. Among the Questions and Answers provided by LARA are the following:

  • Will my current Industrial Hemp Processor-Handler License be valid?

Yes. There will be no changes to your current license.

  • Will the MRA increase the Hemp Processor-Handler license fee?

There are no plans to change fees at this time. The fees are established in statute (2014 PA 547), as amended.  Any changes would require a change in statute.

  • The MRA regulates marijuana, a federally illegal commodity. Does that mean hemp-derived cannabinoids in food will be legal to manufacture and sell?

Not at this time. Hemp is not a scheduled substance and is federally legal; however, the FDA has determined that hemp and hemp derivatives may not be used as additives in food products.

  • What about hemp and/or cannabinoids in animal feed?

MDARD regulates animal feed and pet food under the Feed Law and its promulgated rules.  Hemp and hemp products are not approved feed ingredients and therefore cannot legally be used in animal feed or pet food.

  • Will registered hemp growers still need a processor license to sell smokable flower?

At this time, registered growers require a hemp processor-handler license or medical marijuana processor license to produce and/or sell intermediary, in-process, or finished hemp products including smokable flower.

For a complete list of the questions and answers provided at this time, please see CRA Hemp Transition FAQs. However, it is important to note that even LARA acknowledges that, like so many things in the cannabis industry, “The following FAQs are current as of March 2, 2022, and are subject to change.”

If you need more information about the CRA or assistance with regulatory issues that may affect your products or business interests, please contact a member of Rhoades McKee’s Cannabis Law Services Team.

Please note that marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law, regardless of the fact that its use has been approved for medical and recreational use in Michigan. Therefore, possessing, using, distributing, and selling marijuana are all federal crimes, and this post is not intended to give you any legal advice, or to lead you to believe that marijuana is legal under federal law. Please also note that even though marijuana is illegal under federal law, persons or companies generating income from its use or sale will need to pay federal taxes just as though you are a legal entity.


This alert was drafted with the assistance of Rhoades McKee Law Clerk, Liz Badovinac (WMU Cooley Law School, JD Candidate, ’22).

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