What Is a Marijuana Microbusiness?

Marijuana microbusinesses grow, process and sell small batches of marijuana through an exclusive retail outlet. They’ve become the chosen route in some states to get small business owners into the cannabis industry.

As Missouri gears up to start cannabis sales in February, marijuana microbusinesses are part of the plan for later in 2023. The state will make marijuana microbusiness application forms available in June and begin accepting applications in September.

In Missouri, the law defines a microbusiness as a dispensary or cannabis facility. The law is  “designed to provide a path to facility ownership for individuals who otherwise might not easily access that opportunity,” according to the Columbia Missourian.

Those individuals include those with a net worth less than $250,000, military veterans with a service-related disability, and those negatively impacted in the past by marijuana prohibition.

The actions officials are taking in Missouri are much like what has been done in states that previously legalized adult-use marijuana, including Michigan, New Mexico and New York.

Opening Up Opportunities For More Entrepreneurs

Michigan issued its first microbusiness license to Sticky Bush farms in September 2020. New Mexico, which has made offering opportunities to as many entrepreneurs as possible a key component of its legal marijuana industry, is considering new rules that would allow the state to make loans available to single-location microbusinesses.

New York officials also made microbusinesses part of the state’s legal recreational cannabis program. State officials have set a goal that half of all microbusiness licenses will go to social and economic equity candidates. Springfield, Missouri, is also includes marijuana microbusinesses as it puts a new recreational marijuana program into place.

Much like a craft winery or brewery, states and cities license microbusinesses to grow, produce and sell their own plants. Microbusinesses do not have interaction with other cannabis businesses. Everything is self-contained and done in small batches.

The number of plants a microbusiness can grow varies depending on the state. For example, Michigan licensed Sticky Bush Farms to grow 150 plants. In New Mexico, the limit is 200. Whatever the number, the idea is to grow small-batch cannabis that has unique properties, much like the explosion of craft brews in recent years.

Furthering Social Justice in Cannabis Industry

Microbusinesses give consumers another choice in cannabis products. But more importantly, they further the social justice goals that have become entwined with legalization in many states. By offering the chance for entrepreneurs to enter the market with a relatively low capital investment, states increase opportunities for minority business owners.

Whether microbusinesses will succeed remains to be seen. For some business owners, small markets seem a natural fit for a microbusiness. For example, Sticky Bush is in Onaway, a small town of 1,000 in northern Michigan that is within a county with a population under 14,000.

In New Mexico, the New Mexico Finance Authority has $5 million available to offer affordable loans to licensed cannabis microbusinesses The program meets provisions in the legalization law in New Mexico that calls for promoting business opportunities for communities who were disproportionately penalized by the marijuana laws of the past. It also mandates help for farmers in economically disadvantaged communities.

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