On Monday night, Michigan’s newly formed medical marijuana board unveiled a proposal that would effectively shut down every dispensary in the state. The measure caused dismay among patients in the Great Lake State, many of whom are dependent on dispensaries to obtain their medicinal cannabis products.
Introduced by board member Donald Bailey, the measure would force operating dispensaries to close by September 15. Those that refuse to comply would become ineligible under the new licensing system that will go into effect starting December 15. If passed, the proposition would leave many medical cannabis users without a place to legally buy treatment, and could push patients towards the black market.
The medical marijuana board was recently put together to help create regulations that would stifle the rapid growth of local pot shops, but some feel that the board is overstepping their bounds and acting more like law enforcement. Prior to the recent proposal, no changes were expected to take place until the end of this year.
The medical marijuana board argues that the current batch of dispensaries are operating illegally, citing a 2013 ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court that “prohibits dispensaries from selling marijuana.” Regardless of their decision, the measure would still have to be reviewed and approved by the state Attorney General’s office. However, there’s at least a portion of committee members that are adamant about stamping out the state’s pot shops.
"If we don't do this today we're going to do it somewhere in the future. Because it needs to be done," said board chairman Rick Johnson.
Even if the marijuana board’s proposal is approved and put into place, it would likely take a massive police effort to effectively shut down every dispensary in the state. Still, the council’s motion is especially troubling in light of the ongoing push to get recreational legalization on the state’s 2018 ballot. The board will meet again before the September 15 deadline to discuss the matter.