If you have been following the news related to medical marijuana in Michigan, and especially dispensaries, you know that most medical marijuana is operating in a legal grey area.
It has been tricky for lawmakers, medical dispensaries, and even those administering medical marijuana to know which practices are legal and which could land them in jail or get them a fine.
In the article, Michigan Marijuana Laws: Newest Changes, I reported that the 2016 Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act is being adopted according to each city’s preferences.
The trouble is that some dispensaries – none of which are currently legal, but some of which are nevertheless in operation – may be faced with losing their legal licensing after December 15th when the new law takes effect.
Lawmakers and New Laws to Allow Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
A group of lawmakers in Michigan is pushing for new laws to allow existing dispensaries to remain open legally while applying for licensing.
Before now, the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board – the entity tasked with licensing all new and existing dispensaries – considered asking every dispensary to shut down. They then said staying open might mean a current dispensary couldn’t obtain a license after December 15, 2017.
Now, Senator David Knezek (Democrat from Dearborn Heights) and Representative Yousef Rabhi (Democrat from Ann Arbor) are introducing legislation to keep dispensaries operating while applying for licenses or waiting for pending licenses.
To quote Rep. Rabhi, “We can’t go back in time. Here in Michigan, we have something very important: safe access. And while the legislation that was passed in 2016 changes the landscape, we can’t let this intermediary period disrupt what we’ve built here in the state,”
House Bill 5014
The bill – House Bill 5014 – would define an already-operating dispensary as a “licensee” if it applies for a license before February 18, 2018, until the board makes a decision on the application. It would give the dispensary the necessary legal cover it needs to keep operating.
Senator Knezek will introduce a similar bill in the Senate, and both bills have bipartisan support in both chambers. So chances are good that those relying on cannabis for a variety of medical problems will have unfettered access until dispensaries can gain full legal status.
Despite many anecdotal stories detailing the medical needs of those already relying on marijuana for PTSD, anxiety and seizure disorders, according to an article in Detroit Metro Times, there is a fortune to be made from legalizing marijuana. Legalizing dispensaries will allow many jobs to be created.
For Detroit, in particular, this could be big business – especially if recreational legalization is next. The fact that there is big money in marijuana (even police have seized cash from this deal.) The article states,
“From Feb. 1 to Dec. 31, 2016, Michigan State Police report seizing $15.2 million in cash and property. Out of the 5,290 reported forfeiture cases, 4,955 of them were for controlled substances.”
This is probably what is making this subject so contentious.
As always, I will do my best to keep you updated on all legal changes. In the meantime, if you are facing charges related to a controlled substance, please call.