It’s been an up and down week for many medical marijuana provisioning centers in Michigan. On Tuesday, the state adopted a new set of emergency rules that would require 98 dispensaries to shut down by the end of the week. But now, a judge in Michigan has ordered a stay against these closures. The legal ruling could extend the deadline for those 98 dispensaries, giving them more time to complete new licensing applications.
Michigan’s Rapidly-Changing Medical Marijuana Laws
Things have been kind of confusing in Michigan lately. Here’s a rundown on what’s been going on lately.
Last year, lawmakers in Michigan decided to overhaul the state’s medical marijuana program. In fact, the state threatened to shut down all medical marijuana dispensaries.
Ultimately, that did not happen and dispensaries were allowed to stay open. Instead, the state came up with a set of temporary emergency rules. Since then, Michigan has gone through a series of different emergency rules.
This year alone, medical marijuana dispensaries have had to adjust to several different sets of regulations.
For example, over the summer, lawmakers instituted new rules about how dispensaries are allowed to market and sell their products.
Notably, the state outlawed a number of words. This includes the word “dispensary.” As a result, dispensaries in Michigan are now called “provisioning centers.”
Even more fundamental than these language restrictions is a new licensing framework. This is where things start getting really tricky for medical marijuana dispensary owners.
Here’s the general outline of steps under the new licensing rules:
- Cannabis businesses were required to submit a new first-step application. Originally, the deadline for this was February 15.
- Next, businesses needed to obtain approval from local governments in the city where they operate.
- After that, all marijuana provisioning centers were supposed to complete the second phase of licensing applications.
- Finally, businesses are now required to pay a $48,000 regulatory assessment fee. That fee is scheduled to go up to $66,000 starting October 1.
Cracking Down on Dispensaries
Earlier this year, the state sent cease and desist letters to around 200 medical marijuana dispensaries that failed to complete any of the new licensing applications.
Then earlier this week, state officials announced that they were going to crack down yet again on provisioning centers that have not yet completed all these steps.
In particular, they said that any business that completed the first application but not the other remaining steps would be required to shut down over the weekend. This would have forced 98 dispensaries to close.
Judge Gives Dispensaries a Deadline Extension
But now, those businesses could get a second shot. As reported by local news sources, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Stephen Borrello issued an injunction against the state’s attempts to close dispensaries.
His decision came after a number of medical marijuana proponents filed complaints. In particular, these proponents—along with Judge Borrello—cited a number of reasons why the state’s attempt to shutter 98 dispensaries was invalid.
These reasons included:
- Many local governments have not completed the frameworks and paperwork necessary for dispensaries to obtain local approval. As a result, dispensaries in these areas fall under the category of shops that have incomplete applications still in process.
- Shutting down that many dispensaries would unfairly compromise patients’ ability to access medical marijuana.
- The state didn’t say upfront that being late on any of the new licensing steps would unexpectedly be grounds for closure.
It’s unclear where things will go next with Michigan’s ever-evolving medical marijuana laws. But Borrello’s ruling ordered the state to give all dispensaries until December 15 to finish applying for new licenses.
In addition to the ongoing changes on the medical marijuana front, residents of the state will get to vote on legalizing recreational weed this fall. A recent poll found that the majority of likely voters support the legalization of recreational cannabis.