Michigan medical marijuana regulators are trying to chop the state’s current industry in half, two months ahead of the transition to a new, tighter regulatory system.
The market contraction is a boon to dispensaries that remain in business – they stand to see a boost in sales – but it has sparked legal challenges by some of the businesses whose applications have been denied.
Even the facilities that remain in operation have only temporary licenses: They need state regulators to approve their permanent licenses by June 15, when the new framework is scheduled to be in place.
Some worry the process is going too slowly, that the market won’t be firmed up by the mid-June deadline and that Michigan’s 277,000 registered MMJ patients will be left with inadequate access to supplies.
“That would be a complete disaster,” said Michael Stein, a Bloomfield Hills attorney who represents more than a dozen medical marijuana businesses, many of which were denied temporary licenses by local authorities.
Existing medical marijuana businesses had until Feb. 15 to apply to the state for a license under the new regulatory regime.
In the past few weeks, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has issued cease-and-desist letters to 208 medical marijuana businesses that regulators say:
Failed to apply in time. Applied without conditional approval from their local authorities. Filed incomplete applications.
That has left only 215 businesses with approval to continue operating while the state considers their applications.
Detroit has been the hardest hit: Roughly 150 businesses in the state’s largest city were ordered shut by state authorities, leaving less than 70 in operation.
State regulators had expected to start issuing new licenses this month for growers, processors, dispensaries, distributors and testing facilities. But no licenses have been issued yet.
According to the state’s