Michigan’s Marijuana Dispensaries May Be Forced to Close Their Doors
A new state board governing medical marijuana is attempting to close all of Michigan dispensaries. Members of the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board argue that dispensaries are illegal under current state law and the board wants to see them forced closed by September 15th.
The board held a second meeting on Monday where retired Michigan State Police trooper Donald Bailey said he wanted all dispensaries closed immediately although some would be granted licenses to stay open under a law passed last year to regulate the industry. “If we don’t do this today we’re going to do it somewhere in the future. Because it needs to be done,” said Rick Johnson, who chairs the board.
Some municipalities in the state have passed their own ordinances allowing for medical marijuana shops, even though, in 2013, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled dispensaries were illegal under Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Law.
“Every dispensary that’s out there right now is open in violation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act,” Bailey said, saying dispensaries left operating risk being unable to obtain licenses to operate legally under new laws which will go into effect by the end of the year. More than 100 shops in Detroit have been forced to close their doors in 2017 so far.
Critics say that if Bailey’s proposal goes through patients will be forced to return to the streets to get their cannabis.
“What am I supposed to do during that time? Am I supposed to go back on the black market and get what I need?” Sue Molff, a patient from Traverse City, asked disappointedly.
Note: The new law will not impact caregivers, only dispensaries. Caregivers are licensed to grow marijuana and can sell it to up to five patients. While dispensaries certainly offer a broader selection and convenience, medical marijuana patients will not have to resort to illegal means of obtaining their supply. They will still be able to have access without the dangers associated with street purchases.
Mark Gibson, a PhD candidate at Michigan State University, is also a medical marijuana patient with a degenerative bone disease. He asked the board to consider patient access. “I ask in fairness, not talking about the businesses, but the patients, and ensuring that they have continuous access,” Gibson said. “I have a degenerative bone disorder and discovering medical marijuana was a game changer for me. Before you make a rash decision, the financial cost for people who rely on dispensaries for product will be significant. You will complicate their life so much that they may not be able to get treatment.”
“This is an unprecedented action,” Tim Beck, who helped pass the voter initiated medical marijuana legislation, echoed of the state’s attempt to close shops. “This comes across to me as petty, vindictive and authoritarian.”
Jason Moon, spokesperson for The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which houses the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, said that a major review would be done should this proposal pass, including a review from the Attorney General’s office. “The Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation will thoroughly review the recommendations and discussion from the board, and consult with the Attorney General’s office before any action is taken,” Moon said. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 12, although they will likely meet sooner to further discuss Bailey’s proposal.