Light at End of Tunnel? MMJ Bill Brings Hope to Battered Michigan Marijuana Dispensaries

Michigan medical marijuana dispensaries have had a tough go of it over the past two years, with a state crackdown, local moratoriums and a damaging Supreme Court ruling earlier this year wiping out much of the industry.

The turbulence isn’t surprising, given the lack of state-level regulations governing dispensaries.

But there’s hope on the horizon.

A growing number of Michigan lawmakers – particularly Republicans – reportedly are warming up to the idea of legalizing medical cannabis dispensaries, which could lead to a revival of the state’s MMJ industry, stabilize the cannabis business landscape for the foreseeable future and help prevent future raids. Creating a favorable climate would also lead to plenty of opportunities for existing dispensaries, those that were forced to close, new players and companies that serve the industry.

State Representative Mike Callton (R-Barry County), who introduced legislation to regulate dispensaries earlier this year, told Michigan Radio that his peers in the House are now close to a compromise on the proposal. A committee could vote on the measure this fall after lawmakers return from summer break, paving the way for a full House vote.

InStoryFactbookAdThe measure, House Bill 4271, includes a host of regulations and rules that dispensaries would have to follow, from packaging and labeling to security, patient purchase limits and records-keeping.

Callton cautioned that there will likely be some changes to the measure – including the addition of mandatory cannabis testing – as the bill works its way through the House Judiciary Committee.

But a stricter version of the bill is still better from a business perspective than the current situation, where the dwindling number of dispensaries in the state face the possibility of being forced to shut down every day.

The measure represents one of the last rays of hope for medical marijuana businesses in Michigan. Several hundred dispensaries have closed over the past two years, leaving just 75-100 centers today, according to MMJ Business Daily’s estimates.

“It’s the only thing on the horizon for the (medical marijuana) business community that I’m aware of,” said Matt Abel, a Michigan MMJ attorney. “It’s important because it would let communities establish dispensaries and would allow those currently in business to be legitimized.”

Michigan is a key market for the MMJ industry from a national perspective: The state is home to more than 132,000 registered patients, ranking it second behind California. Last year, dispensaries brought in an estimated $90 million to $120 million in revenues, according to the Marijuana Industry Factbook.