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This 4/20, Michigan's medical marijuana dispensaries are still waiting for licenses

flickr user Dank Depot

Today is 4/20, a day that holds a special significance for marijuana activists and consumers alike.

Stateside decided to mark the date by talking to Michigan Radio’s capitol bureau chief Rick Pluta about the latest developments in the process to license medical marijuana dispensaries.

Listen to the full interview above, or read highlights below.

On why the Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board hasn’t issued a license in the 16 months since lawmakers approved regulating and taxing the medical marijuana industry

“The hold up is that they’ve been setting this up for so long that they’ve just now started executing the standards that the Legislature adopted. And the issue here is that some people say that the board and the state medical marijuana regulating agency are being a little too laid back on this ...

There are 470-something applications pending, and yesterday, the marijuana licensing board issued just nine preliminary licenses. Which means they haven’t even gotten around to issuing a finalized license to a single medical marijuana business with the deadline to get all of them done less than two months away.”

On the application process

“Applications started coming in December of last year. The deadline was mid-February to get that in. And if you didn’t, and you’re an existing medical marijuana facility, then you got a cease-and-desist order from the state saying that you’re no longer eligible to operate and the fact that if you continue to operate, then that might affect your future ability to get a medical marijuana license.”

On why it’s taken nearly 10 years to regulate the industry

“Well, the medical marijuana law as it was adopted by voters was actually very confusing. And it just took that long for local governments to sort out what they wanted to do, going to the Legislature, having the Legislature muster up the will to try and deal with this. And remember, because this was a voter-adopted initiative, that it actually takes super majorities in the Legislature to change it. So, a lot of this was just the time that it took to develop a willingness to exercise the political will to get this done.”

On whether it’s paranoid to think the government is using the Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board to slow down or stop medical marijuana dispensaries all together

“Part of the problem here is that there is in fact a June 15th deadline for the board to issue finalized licenses to applicants who have followed the rules. Now … the agency seems to have tacitly acknowledged that it’s not likely to hit that target with all of the ... applications that are still outstanding. And so, what they’ve said is while operating after June 15th, if you haven’t been issued a final license, might affect your business, that the agency is not going to issue any cease-and-desist orders, and it’s not going to refer anything to the state police for some kind of legal action.”

Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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