All medical marijuana dispensaries in the state of Michigan must close by December 15th or risk losing their chance of getting an official license, the state's medical marijuana bureau has announced. The state is in the process of rolling out a new regulatory system, and plans to offer new licenses to canna-businesses in the first-quarter of next year. In the meantime, medical marijuana patients will have to find a new source for their medicine.
Around 218,000 patients are currently registered as medical marijuana users with the state, which allows them to grow their own cannabis or purchase it from 38,000 designated caregivers. However, the 2008 ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana in the state unfortunately did not explicitly set up rules for dispensaries. As a result, numerous dispensaries opened across the state, and have been operating in a legal grey area ever since.
A new law to regulate the industry was passed in 2016, establishing a five-tiered licensing system for medical marijuana businesses. Application fees are expected to cost between $4,000 and $8,000, and license fees could range anywhere from $10,000 to $57,000. Once all of these regulations are in place, the Michigan MMJ industry is expected to generate $800 million in revenue, along with around $74 million in sales and dispensary taxes for the state.
Andrew Brisbo, director of the state's medical marijuana bureau, announced that any dispensaries that are open after December 15th will face a “potential impediment to licensure.” Board members originally proposed that the deadline for closure should be this week, but the date was extended to allow businesses three months to wind down their affairs and for patients to connect with licensed caregivers.
“The department will not shut down facilities,” Brisbo said. “However, continued operation is a business risk as they may be shut down by law enforcement or denied licensure.”