Licensing hold-ups tend to be one the largest obstacles facing nascent cannabis programs in states across the U.S. The slow-moving gears of government bureaucracy continue to setback timelines, frustrating businesses and patients alike. In Michigan, for instance, the logistical problems of just one member of the state’s Medical Marijuana Licensing Board has delayed the entire licensing process—again.
Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Licensing Board Fails To Award Licenses (Again)
On Monday, The Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board had scheduled a meeting to award nearly a dozen licenses and discuss pre-qualifying nearly a dozen more. But on Friday, the board canceled the meeting. A new date has been set for July 12.
A spokesman for the state Department of Licensing and Regulation didn’t reveal which board members couldn’t make it to Monday’s meeting. But one member said he couldn’t attend, and a second said they would have difficulty making it to Lansing, reports Detroit Free Press.
Monday’s canceled meeting represents just the latest in a string of delays dating back to the passage of a medical marijuana law 18 months ago. The state has accepted applications over the last six months but has yet to issue a single license.
On Monday, the board was set to grant four cultivation licenses, and licenses to a transport company, processors and an Ann Arbor dispensary. The agenda also included considering awarding provision licenses to 10 additional applications for a variety of operations.
Michigan Marijuana Business Applications Delayed Another Month
These kinds of delays are costly. The licensing application is a time- and resource-consuming endeavor.
Jeff Hank, a legalization proponent and attorney working with several marijuana businesses, said some of his clients have already invested six-figures into setting up their medical cannabis businesses. Some had even hired employees—who could now lose their jobs—in anticipation of receiving a license this month.
“It just creates a lot of uncertainty for people,” said Hank. “There needs to be an evaluation of how to make the process more efficient.”
Some medical cannabis advocates in Michigan, on the other hand, are calling for an end to the licensing board entirely. Matthew Abel, lawyer and executive director for Michigan’s chapter of NORML, said: “the Legislature should change the law and do away with the board altogether.”
Another proposal on the table is simply legalizing cannabis for adult use. Michigan voters will weigh in on that proposal on the November 6 ballot. If the measure passes, licensing duties will pass to Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulation.
And that might move things more quickly than the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board. In five months, the board has approved no licenses and granted provisional approval to just 24 applicants. Yet Michigan has received 546 pre-qualification applications, with another 212 who’ve already obtained local approval and facilities applying for licenses.