An In Depth Look at the Michigan Dispensary Shutdown

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Is Cannabis legal in Michigan?

In the 20th century, cannabis was illegal throughout the United States. It was even still taboo to talk about it in medical circles. The turn of the century brought along with it the argument that maybe cannabis was not that bad after all and maybe it could actually be beneficial for those that knew how to utilize it. In the past decade, there have been various laws passed in particular states that have legalized cannabis to some degree or other, including Michigan.

There are some states where it is only legal for medicinal purposes. Then there are states where it can be used recreationally without the full force of the law bearing down upon the user. Of course, there are a host of states where it is still completely illegal.

Michigan is not one of these. In 2008, there was a vote that was called which, if passed, would sanction the use of marijuana only for medicinal purposes. This vote was passed, but now, a full ten years later, there are proving to be a couple of hiccups along the road.

Who is legally allowed to consume marijuana in Michigan?

As the law only allows for medicinal marijuana, it is very easy to produce numbers which should reflect the demand in the state. Currently, there 277,000 patients who have been given a prescription for marijuana. They are allowed to consume the product either by growing it themselves or by purchasing it from caregivers.

There are 43,000 of these licensed caregivers in the state, and they can obviously only supply a limited amount of cannabis to their patients. It does not take a mathematical genius to see that there is a rather large discrepancy in the numbers here. There is no way that supply can meet demand, which could prove to be quite fatal to these patients as marijuana forms part of their treatment protocol.

What are the plans to meet demand?

A simple fix to this supply and demand mismatch would clearly be to allow more people to distribute marijuana. This would be in the form of dispensaries. Due to the medical nature of legally sanctioned marijuana, there have to be laws which govern these dispensaries. It is these regulations that saw the shutdown of countless dispensaries in Michigan a few weeks ago.

Which dispensaries were shut down?

For a dispensary to legally distribute marijuana for medicinal purposes, they had to apply for a license. These licenses are to be issued by the state, and the application deadline was in the middle of February. About 215 businesses in Michigan were able to correctly submit their paperwork in time. This has allowed them to operate legally while they wait on their state-issued license. Countless others were not that lucky, 210 shops to be exact.

Over the course of 2 weeks, each one of these shops was served with a cease and desist notification. They were also told that if they did not pack up shop immediately that they may not be able to apply for a license in the future.

A spokesperson from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs expanded upon the department’s reasons for shutting these shops down. He said that businesses were ordered to shut down if they had filled in the application incorrectly, not submitted it at all or submitted it after the deadline had come and gone. Apparently, there is still hope for applications that are simply considered to be incomplete. These may be able to be rectified in a timely fashion.

Where were these dispensaries shut down?

Out of the 215 dispensaries that were served cease and desist notices, only a couple were in places other than Detroit. Three dispensaries were closed down in both Battle Creek and Ann Harbor, 8 in Lansing, 5 in Gaylord, seven in Flint and a few more scattered around Michigan.

The department was able to locate these dispensaries by doing their fair share of research. They first compiled a list of every dispensary in the state then they checked that list against records pertaining to license applications. They are, however, open to the possibility that mistakes have been made and claim to be prepared to hear these stories.             

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