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Dispensaries, patients, brace for closure ahead of board meeting

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Tracy Samilton
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Bloom City Club in Ann Arbor

The future of medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan could be decided tomorrow, when the state Medical Marijuana Licensing Board meets again to discuss whether current dispensaries should be able to get a license.

At the last meeting, one member said dispensaries should have to close their doors until the application process opens – or risk not getting a license at all.

The state’s licensing department will make a recommendation on the issue at the meeting.

“We want to make sure we have a fair and efficient process by which we can issue licenses. And that’s where I think that clarity in our approach is of critical importance to these prospective licensees,”  said Andrew Brisbo with the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation in the state’s licensing department. He says the bureau wants to make sure patients have safe access to medical marijuana.

Brisbo says neither the board nor the department have the power to shut down dispensaries.

But just the threat of being denied a license is spooking dispensary owners, employees, and patients.

Dori Edwards works at Bloom City Club in Ann Arbor, where a steady stream of patients came and went on Monday.

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Credit Tracy Samilton
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Some of the marijuana medicines for sale at Bloom City Club in Ann Arbor

She says in many cases, patients have no alternative to the medicine they get at the dispensary.  She says after trying several different kinds of medical marijuana, Bloom City Club was able to find just the right one for a 12-year-old boy who suffered from seizures due to epilepsy. 

"His son is seizure-free for a year and a half now," says Edwards,  adding that his father "is so happy. I don't know what he is going to do for his son during the interim if they decide to close us down."

There will also be an economic impact. Bloom City Club employs more than 20 people, providing health insurance as well.

"They're worried about losing their jobs," says Edwards.  "We have one of our managers who just bought a house and she's worried about her mortgage payment."

 

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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