Local officials are beginning to decide if they want medical marijuana businesses in their communities before the state starts giving out licenses next year. Wochit
Medical marijuana being grown in Warren.(Photo: William Archie, Detroit Free Press)Buy Photo
LANSING – On the eve of 4/20 — the date most associated with marijuana legalization efforts — the Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board gave preliminary approval to nine applications, denied two and postponed action on another potential business.
And yet, 16 months after the Michigan Legislature passed bills to regulate and tax the medical marijuana industry and four months after the state started accepting applications for licenses, not a single business has been awarded a license to begin operating in what has been estimated will be at least a $700-million business in the state.
The slow pace comes as dispensaries already serving customers face a June 15 deadline to either get a license or be shut down.
“There was a lot to be done after the law was passed. We had to get an IT system set up, build an organization and hire employees,” said Andrew Brisbo, director of the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation. “I think we made tremendous progress and I’m pleased with where we stand considering the time frames we’ve had to deal with.”
The licensing board at least made some progress Thursday, approving pre-qualification for four dispensaries, including three that also were pre-qualified as a grow operation, one testing facility, one secure transporter and two processing facilities.
A pre-qualification means that the applicants have gone through the background checks done by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and the Michigan State Police, but they still have to get approval from the community where they want