click to enlarge Craig Mauger, Michigan Campaign Finance Network A medical marijuana dispensary in Lansing.
Michigan’s medical marijuana licensing board has opted not to encourage dispensaries in the state to close by the end of this week, after a public meeting in which patients described the harm it would cause. But dispensaries will likely have to shut down by Dec. 15, or risk being penalized as they apply for licenses to operate under new medical marijuana laws passed in Lansing last year.
The plan to require marijuana businesses to close by the same date they can begin applying for licenses emerged ahead of yesterday’s board meeting, after one of two former police officers on the five-person panel last month made a push to close all dispensaries by Sept. 15.
According to a statement from the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, the December shutdown deadline “will allow existing operations to wind down while also giving adequate time for patients to establish connections to caregivers to help ensure continuity of access.”
But marijuana patients and advocates say a Dec. 15 deadline will still limit patient access to cannabis.
“Even if the licenses are handed out on the 15th (the first day businesses can apply), you’re not gonna get a license on the 15th and then on the 16th be open for business,” explains Roberta King, co-owner of Canna Communication. “So this will still be harmful to patients who rely on cannabis for their health and well being and it will be harmful for businesses.”
At least one state lawmaker is hoping to come to the aid of those patients and businesses. Rep. Yousef Rabhi, a Democrat who represents Ann Arbor, will introduce a bill in Michigan’s House Thursday to “protect medical marijuana businesses from regulatory overreach.” The bill would establish a timeframe for processing the license