Michigan regulators may allow unlicensed marijuana businesses to reopen | Michigan Radio
WUOMFM

Michigan regulators may allow unlicensed marijuana businesses to reopen

Jan 15, 2019

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan may soon allow closed medical marijuana dispensaries without a license to reopen.

More than half the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries were forced to close earlier this month because of licensing issues. The result of the closures has been a shortage of medical marijuana products.   Even licensed dispensaries have had problems stocking enough products to meet demand.

“With almost no access to medicine right now, we need solutions to be put in place immediately that allow patients to access their medical marijuana,” said Robin Schneider, the executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association. She made the comment at a news conference Tuesday.

But late Tuesday, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) announced that it will ask the state Medical Marihuana Licensing Board (MMLB) on Wednesday to adopt a resolution to allow dozens of dispensaries to reopen.

“We have heard from Michiganders closely affected by the ongoing transition to licensed marijuana facilities,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “It is important that we ensure that patients have access to their medicine while the medical marijuana industry continues to develop.”

The solution would be temporary. Regulators would give dispensaries and growers until the end of March to get the needed licenses to operate.

Josh Hovey is the spokesman for the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association. He says the association is "very pleased" state regulators listened to the “concerns of patients and the industry.” Though he adds "long-term challenges" remain.  

Industry officials hope to use the same framework for medical marijuana operations to license commercial recreational cannabis businesses.

Michigan voters approved recreational use in November, and while the law took effect in December, commercial sales of marijuana for recreational adult use will not begin until 2020. 

LARA recommends that the MMLB adopt a resolution that makes it clear that disciplinary action will not be taken against an applicant in the following circumstances:

Temporarily Operating Facilities (through March 31, 2019)

  • The applicant’s proposed facility is within a municipality that had an authorizing ordinance in place by December 15, 2017.
  • The applicant applied for a license no later than February 15, 2018.
  • The applicant notifies the Department within one business day of becoming aware of any adverse reaction to a marijuana product sold or transferred.

Licensed Provisioning Centers (through March 31, 2019)

The Board will not take disciplinary action against a licensed provisioning center for purchasing marijuana products from either a registered primary caregiver or from a temporarily operating facility, as long as the licensee does all the following:

  • Obtain signed patient consent prior to selling any marijuana products that have not been tested in full compliance with the law and administrative rules.
  • Enter all inventory into the statewide monitoring system immediately upon receipt from a caregiver or from a temporarily operating facility.
  • Verify and confirm – before any sale or transfer – with government issued photo identification and the statewide monitoring system that the customer holds a valid registry identification card.
  • Enter all sales in the statewide monitoring system and determine sales will not exceed daily purchasing limits.
  • Notify LARA within one business day of becoming aware of any adverse reaction to a marijuana product sold or transferred.

Licensed Growers or Processors (through March 31, 2019)

The Board will not take disciplinary action against a licensed grower or processor for purchasing marijuana products from either a registered primary caregiver or from a temporarily operating facility, as long as the licensee does all of the following:

  • Enter all marijuana products as inventory into the statewide monitoring system immediately upon receipt.
  • Tag or package all inventory that has been identified in the statewide monitoring system.
  • Only transfer marijuana products that have been tested in full compliance with the law and administrative rules.
  • Notify LARA within one business day of becoming aware of any adverse reaction to a marijuana product sold or transferred.