On Thursday, dozens of cannabis dispensaries across Michigan were hit with cease and desist letters demanding they immediately halt all operations. And that’s just the tip of the spear. Over the coming weeks, Michigan officials plan to deliver letters to hundreds of more dispensaries they say are violating the rules. How could this state just shut down 40 medical marijuana dispensaries in a single day, with little warning? And how will this action impact medical cannabis patients?
Michigan Officials Say Hundreds Of Dispensaries Are Operating Illegally
Michigan’s medical marijuana program has been in place since 2008. Now, more than 277,000 people have registered with the state’s program.
In the program’s decade-long existence, lots of unregistered, unlicensed dispensaries have popped up. Sometimes, these dispensaries are valued establishments in the communities they serve. Elsewhere, where residents may have more reservations toward legal cannabis, police have cracked down on these off-the-books dispensaries.
Then, in 2016, a conservative state legislature began crafting bills to better regulate, tax, and license Michigan’s medical cannabis industry.
Passage of those bills put in place what the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs call “emergency rules.” For one, the rules aim to ease the transition to the new licensing policies. But they also grant some leeway to formerly illegal businesses that try to get above board.
For example, the rules state that businesses can operate temporarily so long as they’ve submitted an application for a state operating license. The catch, however, was that businesses had to submit their applications by February 15 of this year.
David Harns, spokesperson for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, explains: “any business that didn’t apply for a license by