Some 40 medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan were ordered to close last week, and state authorities said hundreds more would follow in the weeks to come. The dispensaries in question have been operating in what is widely called the “gray market” — falling through the gaping legal holes in Michigan’s troubled medical marijuana program, but tolerated by the authorities. Now, the state government appears to be saying they cannot operate until those legal gaps are closed.
“Personnel from the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Division Enforcement Section accompanied by Michigan State Police troopers have begun physically serving cease and desist letter to marijuana businesses that are not in compliance with Emergency Rule 19,” read a statement from David Harns, press representative for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulator Affairs, as reported by the Associated Press.
“Any business that didn’t apply for a license by Feb. 15 isn’t in compliance with the emergency rules that were set up,” Harns added to the Detroit Free Press. “We did 40 today all throughout the state and there will be hundreds more.”
A part of the problem is that dispensaries need approval from both state and municipal authorities — and the local regulations in Detroit are being held up by litigation.
Detroit’s 62 medical marijuana dispensaries had been set to close on Feb. 15 amid a legal challenge to two measures passed by the city’s voters in November regarding the zoning of retail cannabis outlets. In January, the city announced a kind of reprieve, saying it would offer dispensary owners a chance to apply for permits anew by the February deadline. As the Free Press noted, however, the deferment was temporary and set to expire on June 15, if the legal challenge has not been resolved by by then.
This isn’t the first