Last month, Michigan closed 40 unlicensed dispensaries and promised to shut a hundred more. Since then, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has sent out hundreds of cease and desist letters to unlicensed medical marijuana operations. Now, over 200 Michigan medical marijuana dispensaries forced to close are no longer in the running for official licensing. Here’s a closer look at Michigan’s medical marijuana program, and the Great Lakes State’s many off-the-books businesses.
Dispensaries Are Closing Across Michigan. Here’s Why.
Michigan legalized medical marijuana in 2008. Only when a Republican majority took over the state legislature in 2016 did they implement thorough laws for regulation, taxation and licensing. By these new legal standards, many of Michigan’s operational marijuana dispensaries are illegal.
Per these new regulations, marijuana dispensaries require state-issued business licenses. As this process can be difficult and expensive, the State offered medical marijuana businesses a grace period lasting until February 15th.
David Harns, Public Information Officer for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, explained to High Times, “In Michigan, there were facilities that were operating before the law was passed and before the implementation started […]. So an emergency rule was written that allowed temporary operation with local authorization.”
With a city clerk’s signature, guaranteeing that a dispensary is abiding by local laws, some businesses remain open. In these cases, “it was not going to be considered an impediment to your licensure if you stayed open,” said Harns.
Many of the dispensaries catering to Michigan’s 277,000 medical marijuana card holders did submit their application by the deadline with local approval. Others, however, did not but remained open. The state is now shutting down these businesses, just as we’ve seen in California.
These dispensaries that are not in compliance with new regulations will, potentially, never qualify for another license. They could even face federal