At the beginning of the month, 40 medical cannabis dispensaries in Michigan received cease-and-desist letters from the state demanding their immediate closure. At the time, state regulators promised that hundreds more dispensaries would be closing1, and this week it happened; over 200 dispensaries in the state, most located in Detroit, have now received the same letter telling them to shut down or risk being arrested.
Many of these shops opened and operated under Michigan’s lightly-regulated “medical cannabis program,” passed in 2008. But in 2016 a new law was passed to “reign in the industry” and it included stricter regulations on canna-businesses and new tax rules. However, so that patients would still have access to their medicine, legislators decided to allow current dispensaries to remain open while they applied for a new license. But you had to apply…
With the state’s new cannabis regulations set to go into effect next month, officials decided that if a canna-business had not applied for an official license, prior to February 15th, it would be shut down. And it just so happened that 210 businesses that had not yet applied for their license. (Over 150 stores are located in Detroit, with another eight in Lansing and Flint each, and the remaining few scattered throughout the state.)
The State of Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) said some of the businesses have claimed that they have a court order to specifically allow them to continue operating while they argue with Detroit officials over a medical cannabis ordinance. We hope that is the case.
The closure of this many dispensaries limits the supply of medicine to the state’s 277,000 registered patients but a spokesman from LARA noted that there are still 215 dispensaries open in the state. I’m guessing they are just concerned about keeping people safe, not restricting our legal right to purchase medicinal cannabis, that’s why all the cease and desist letters were sent. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)