Michigan medical cannabis shortage might result in dispensary shutdowns

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A lack of medical marijuana in Michigan could potentially result in the state’s approximately 40 licensed dispensaries shuttering their businesses until spring.

Cannabis cultivators in the state didn’t start getting permits to grow until August, and that means a larger supply of licensed MMJ won’t be available in the state until next year when more can be harvested, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The newspaper noted that before getting their state-mandated permits, dispensaries were allowed to buy cannabis from more than 40,000 registered caregivers who have been growing under a Michigan MMJ law that was passed by voters in 2008.

“We paid good money for a license and now we’re getting punished. And the unlicensed dispensaries are flourishing,” Chris Norman, who launched an MMJ business in a small northern Michigan town, told the Free Press.

More than 200 unlicensed dispensaries in Michigan reportedly continue to operate under emergency rules until they can get a license.

According to the Free Press, many unlicensed dispensaries are holding off on getting a permit to avoid the state rules and delay paying the $66,000 in regulatory fees for licensing. And since they are not licensed, they can continue buying from caregivers.

Here are the basics around the situation:

  • Michigan set a Sept. 15 deadline for dispensaries to get a license or close their doors. However, temporary dispensaries balked, and a Court of Claims judge nixed the shutdown.
  • The state then set a deadline for the end of October, but a lawsuit resulted and the judge said no to that action as well.
  • Dispensaries and Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) are awaiting a decision from Court of Claims Judge Stephen Borrello after a hearing last week.

Dispensary owners with permits would like to see the state expand the 30-day transition period so they can extend the time they can buy from caregivers.

But the Free Press noted that LARA hasn’t shown signs it will grant an extension, despite being made aware of the supply shortage.