Michigan won’t extend medical marijuana licensing deadline beyond Sept. 15

(This story has been updated to reflect additional licenses issued by the state.)

A Michigan state official said Wednesday the state won’t extend its Sept. 15 deadline for medical marijuana businesses to secure licenses to continue operating, despite concerns the market will fall into chaos because of a lack of permitted companies.

“It will not be extended. It cannot be extended,” David Harns, spokesman for Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, told Marijuana Business Daily. “Emergency rules are in effect.”

Unlicensed businesses are running serious risks if they operate after Sept. 15, including the hazard of potentially not ever getting a permit, Bob Hendricks, a marijuana business lawyer in Grand Rapids, told Mlive.com.

Here are the basics behind the situation:

  • The state so far has approved only 16 operating licenses, including nine on Thursday, under the new regulatory regime. That includes two testing facilities, a critical piece to getting products approved for purchase.
  • Existing MMJ businesses that don’t receive their state licenses by Sept. 15 would be required to shut down. The deadline already has been extended once, from June 15.
  • Michigan cannabis attorneys and consultants have said that at this pace the market simply won’t have enough operators to begin to meet market needs and have expressed their concerns for months about the potential for disaster.
  • As of Aug. 1, the state had 290,230 registered patients, one of the country’s largest MMJ markets.

Consultant Connie Maxim-Sparrow, who represents 35 clients in Michigan, told MJBizDaily she believes at least a six-month extension beyond Sept. 15 is necessary.

She said she has a dozen clients who have been stuck in the first step of the state’s application process since February.

“The state isn’t making this easy,” Sparrow said, adding that key hurdles have included “bureaucracy and the state’s expectation of liquid finances.”

Harns wrote in an email to MJBizDaily on Thursday that seven dispensaries – or provisioning centers, as they are called in Michigan – now have been licensed, including four in Detroit.

About two-thirds of registered patients live within 30 miles of a licensed provisioning center, he added.

Licenses also have been issued to four growers, two processors and one transport company.

He earlier wrote that the process has been slowed by such factors as 230 applicants not turning in complete applications by the deadline.

As of this week, 347 applications were in the second step of the state’s process and hundreds were in what’s called the prequalification phase.

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