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Bill to penalize operation of a medical marijuana facility without a license passes House committee

Marijuana plant
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 2008.

State lawmakers want to put in place a final deadline for medical marijuana facilities to get a license, or not be able to stay open.

A state House committee unanimously passed a bill Wednesday. It gives a June 1st deadline for facilities – and if they stay open without a license, the facility can’t get a license for a year.

Facilities have received multiple extensions to get licenses. But there’s a question if facilities going through the process should be able to operate in the meantime.

“So at some point, and this is the purpose of this bill, you have to have a line in the sand that says after a certain date you’re either licensed or you’re not. And if you’re not you have to cease operations,” said bill sponsor, Representative Jim Lilly (R-Park Township).

The state department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs opposes the bill – but a representative says the department cannot give further comment. That’s because there’s pending litigation between the department and several medical marijuana operators that could be affected by the bill. The judge in that case is currently allowing facilities with licenses on appeal to stay open.

Some operators say they should be able to stay open on a temporary license while they appeal the denial of their license. They say if they can’t that violates their due process rights.

Robin Schneider is the CEO of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association. It’s neutral on the bill because they have members on both sides of the issue.

“Ultimately we do want a solution to fix this permanently, swiftly, so everybody can play on a fair and even playing field,” Schneider said.

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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