The state of Michigan is still trying to sort out its medical marijuana program. The process has been relatively long and at times somewhat confusing. Now, as state regulators try to implement clearer and more strict rules, it looks like roughly 100 Michigan medical marijuana dispensaries have to close.
Which Dispensaries Will Have to Close?
Throughout 2018, Michigan lawmakers have been working to establish stricter regulations on the medical marijuana industry. In particular, all dispensaries are required to submit a new set of applications. Additionally, this process also includes new fees.
In order to remain open, dispensaries must fill out all new paperwork and meet all new requirements. They must also pay all fees.
And if a shop does not meet all the new requirements, the state will send them cease and desist letters. Ultimately, shops that receive cease and desist notices will be forced to close.
As the state has worked to implement these new rules, a continuum of companies operating at various degrees of compliance has emerged. Here’s how it all breaks down.
Cannabis businesses were supposed to submit new applications by February 15. After the initial application, businesses were then supposed to get approval from the city in which they operate.
Next comes a second phase of licensing. This was supposed to be completed by June 15. And finally, cannabis businesses in Michigan are now supposed to pay a $48,000 regulatory assessment fee.
All year, the state has been threatening to shut down dispensaries that don’t meet the new licensing procedure.
Now, authorities said that businesses that have completed the first application but nothing else will be forced to shut down. According to local news sources, there are 98 dispensaries that fall into this category.
Earlier in the year, the state sent cease and desist letters to around 200 dispensaries. These shops did not submit any applications for new licenses.
Which Shops Stay Open?
While the state is poised to shut down a large number of dispensaries, there are still some shops that get to remain open. These are dispensaries that have so far complied with new regulations.
In particular, there are reportedly 108 or so dispensaries that have completed all applications and are still awaiting state review and approval. These will be allowed to remain open until December. By then, the state should be able to review all applications and make licensing decisions.
Local sources report that the state has so far approved 37 marijuana businesses for licenses. Of those businesses, only 10 have paid the $48,000 assessment fee. The remainder will be required to pay the fee in order to remain in business.
Michigan’s cannabis legal structure has been in flux in recent years. Initially, voters approved medical marijuana back in 2008. To begin with, the medical marijuana market was made up of numerous caregivers. These caregivers provided medical marijuana to patients.
But there was little state oversight. Since then, lawmakers have tried to rein in the program. The new rules and licensing requirements are the outcomes of these efforts.
State authorities said that the new, stricter requirements—including the relatively steep assessment fees—are meant to weed out marijuana businesses who aren’t committed to complying with state laws.
In addition to these changes to medical marijuana laws, voters in Michigan will get to vote on recreational marijuana this fall.