A recent proposal by the Michigan authorities to immediately shut down all medical marijuana dispensaries before official licensing of shops begins has been pushed back to December 15.
Recently, we reported on a plan to temporarily close all medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan until licenses were issued by the state next year. Of course, while this planned may have sounded good to state officials, it was terrifying to patients whose safe access to medicine could have been compromised.
The initial plan calling for an immediate shutdown has been altered. Now, Michigan’s Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation is giving dispensaries until December 15, the same day applications for licenses will start to be accepted, to cease operations. Should companies continue operating beyond that date they could jeopardize their chances of receiving a license once the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) begins issuing them next year.
“The department will not shut down dispensaries, but it will be a business risk for them to continue to operate because they could be shut down by law enforcement and it could be an impediment to getting a license,” Andrew Brisbo, director of Michigan’s Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation said according to the Detroit Free Press.
LARA feels that patients should be able to make appropriate plans to set up relationships with caregivers for access to medical marijuana during the licensing process.”This approach will allow existing operations to wind down while also giving adequate time for patients to establish connections to caregivers to help ensure continuity of access,” LARA said in a statement.
Despite the needs of patients, not every member of the LARA licensing board supported the delay in closures. One member, retired Michigan State Police Officer Don Bailey, took a stern law and order approach.
“I understand that LARA thinks that Dec. 15 is the appropriate date, but my date is Sept. 15,” Bailey said. “Operating a dispensary now “is a violation of the law, it has been. I’m not going to support someone who stays open.”
No matter what date shops are forced, there are bound to be concerns from worried patients.
“I have 2 rods in my spine, I have been forced to rely on dispensaries because without access to medicine, I can’t get out of bed,” said Jason Durham of Lansing. “Cannabis has given me an active life back. If you reduce our access, where do you want us to go, other than the black market?”
Nathan Oaks, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and medical marijuana cardholder and dispensary manager, feels that patients were being unfairly targeted.
“They should be praised, not penalized,” he told the board. “Plenty of times, I considered taking my own life and I can tell you that medical marijuana has saved my life.”