In a surprise move, Michigan’s Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (BMMR) reversed its prior decision and had now declared in a press release that they will allow currently existing marijuana dispensaries to continue operating provided they have local approval. Furthermore, that such operations will not impact the applicant’s eligibility for licensure.
Prior to the 2016 amendments to Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act, the only way for a card holding medical marijuana patient to obtain marijuana was to either grow it him or herself or to purchase it from a “caregiver.” The trouble was, there were no rules surrounding the lawful sale and purchase of medical marijuana, and therefore, it was not, strictly speaking, against the law to open a dispensary. This legal gray area caused many problems; problems that the 2016 amendments sought to correct and clarify.
Previously, the BMMR had indicated that currently, existing dispensaries should shut down by not later than September 15, 2017, and that such dispensaries may have trouble getting licenses. This has now changed according to the press release.
One reason for the change was that some medical marijuana patients, those that relied on the dispensaries, would be unable to obtain medical marijuana subsequently. Michigan currently has almost 300,000 registered patients.
Of course, this does not help those dispensaries operating in places that look disfavorably on their activities. If the locals do not approve of the dispensary, then they still won’t be able to stay in business. Furthermore, the BMMR has indicated that existing dispensaries must submit a prequalification application by Feb. 15, 2018. If their license is denied, they cannot stay in operation.
According to the Mich.gov website, LARA will begin taking prequalification applications on December 15, 2017. There is a two-step application process which includes (1) Pre-Qualification, and (2) License Qualification. Step one can happen before the licensee has secured a location for the business. Step two is for post-location. If a licensee has a location secured by December 15, 2017, then they can do step one and two at the same time.