New legislation could allow Michigan medical marijuana dispensaries to stay open while authorities go through the process of officially licensing them.
Patients in Michigan were on track for a pretty rough holiday season. But two new proposals could allow medical marijuana dispensaries to keep their doors open beyond December 15. Previously, lawmakers decided that all shops would have to close while the licensing process for medical marijuana dispensary operators played out.
Michigan Sen. David Knezek and Rep. Yousef have introduced the new legislation.
“It became very apparent that this was never the intention of the Legislature and we need to do something to ensure that people have safe and accessible medicine,” Knezek said according to the Detroit Free Press. “We don’t want to force patients back to the underground, where products can be dangerous.”
There will be 5 categories for medical marijuana licenses. Growers, processors, testers, dispensary operators, and transporters will all have to submit applications to operate legally. The Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board is expected to issue licenses in the first few months of 2018.
Calls for lawmakers to reconsider the initial plan for a mass shutdown of dispensaries were widespread. Many patients were worried about safely accessing medical marijuana.
“I think about the veterans who are alone, who could be using dispensaries,” he said. “I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to be in a state where you have access and then it’s ripped away after changing your life in a positive way,” Justin Nichols, an Army veteran said at a press conference joined by Knezek and Rabhi.
Knezek and Rabhi cannot guarantee all shops will receive a license and remain open for the long term.
“If they (the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board) decide your application is denied, you’ll have to shut down,” Knezek said. “We’re not going to get involved in that decision.”