Medical cannabis dispensary owners in Michigan are breathing a sigh of relief today after state officials announced that they will not force them to close while the state sorts out its new licensing system. Medical cannabis has been legal in the state since 2008, but the law did not specifically legalize dispensaries. Regardless, several bold entrepreneurs opened dispensaries across the state, conducting business in a legal grey area until a 2016 law finally created an official licensing and regulation process.
This summer, the state's Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (BMMR) mandated that any currently-operating dispensary that wanted a shot at a legal license must close from December 15th until the licensing process is completed next year. The decision was immediately contested by the state's cannabis industry, who argued that many of these dispensaries would be put out of business by the temporary shutdown. Cannabis advocates also warned that many of the state's 272,215 registered cannabis users could lose access to their medicine.
This week, the BMMR announced that they would allow these dispensaries to stay open without negatively impacting their chance at a license. "Through emergency rules, the Bureau and Board will not consider a medical marihuana [sic] facility's prior operation as an impediment to licensure as long as the applicant documents approval from their municipality in their application," BMMR director Andrew Brisbo said in a press release.
Brisbo added that the decision was based on public feedback from patients and other parties who depended on these dispensaries remaining operational. Under the new emergency rules, dispensaries that are currently open under local ordinances will be allowed to remain open while applying for their new licenses. Each of these dispensaries will need to submit a prequalification application by February 15th of next year, and must agree to cease all operations if their license application is denied.