A proposal was recently brought forward to close all medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan until shops can officially be licensed.
Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 in 2008 which legalized medical marijuana. The program has seen its fair share of delays and challenges from state lawmakers since it was implemented.
Now, there could an even greater shakeup on the horizon. Donald Bailey, a member of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board, is looking to close all dispensaries by September 5 until the state issues licenses for dispensaries. Any shops that remain open would be excluded from receiving approval to operate on December 15, when the board plans on issuing the official licenses.
“Every dispensary out there is open in violation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act,” Bailey said during a recent board meeting according to the Detroit Free Press. “It’s a felony for every sale that occurs from a dispensary.”
Cutting off safe access to patients may sound better in theory than it does in practice. Bailey’s proposal was met with widespread criticism, especially from patients that could have difficulty accessing their medicine for months.
“I have a degenerative bone disorder and discovering medical marijuana was a game changer for me,” said Mark Gibson of Detroit at a public meeting. “Before you make a rash decision, the financial cost for people who rely on dispensaries for product will be significant. You will complicate their life so much that they may not be able to get treatment.”
Kirk Reed feared that he may have to pursue marijuana through the black market to keep his multiple sclerosis symptoms at bay.
“What happens if your caregiver has a heart attack, where do you go for medicine?” he said.
Tim Beck fought hard to get Proposal 1 to the voters in 2008. He was very blunt in his criticism of Bailey’s proposal
“This comes across to me as petty, vindictive and authoritarian,” he said.
After hearing from patients, the board has decided against enacting Bailey’s proposal, at least at this time.
Some residents in Michigan would like to see more regulation of dispensaries. David Scott, Supervisor of Commerce Township, feels that many growers are producing more than the law allows.
“Knock off the crap that’s illegal and is nothing but organized crime,” he said.
Local governments have the right to permit or prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries. Like California, this has created mass confusion and inconsistencies.
Last year, Michigan lawmakers sought to bring more consistency to the medical marijuana program. The new law calls for medical marijuana licenses for growers, testing labs, processors, transporters, and dispensaries.
Bailey and other Michigan authorities feel they need a clean start to properly license and regulate the industry.