July 10, 2018, Michigan
Michigan residents are going to vote on adult-use cannabis in a public ballot this November. But MMJ patients in the state are still wondering when the regulators would start issuing licenses to MMJ dispensaries. Michigan legalized medical cannabis 10 years ago and it took eight years from the authorities to come up with a Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act addressing the issue of regulations and licensing dispensaries.
The board formed by the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) started accepting applications for MMJ dispensaries in December last year. By the mid of February 2018, around 540 facilities have applied for licenses. More than four months have passed by but the state hasn’t issued a single cannabis license.
It is worth noting that 96 local municipalities in the state have agreed to allow MMJ dispensaries to operate, but they are also waiting for the board to begin issuing licenses. The board is currently examining 19 licenses, out of which eight have already been rejected due to questionable character exhibit of applicants and failure in disclosing information.
Initially, June 15th was set as the deadline to submit applications. But due to their inefficient processing, the board has extended the deadline by three months. The board members are going to meet this week as well, but it’s still not clear whether they would issue any license.
Board’s Extreme Prejudice Towards Cannabis Business Owners
Even though MMJ has been legal for almost a decade in Michigan, but the authorities are still treating associated business with suspicion. According to one applicant, who wants to remain anonymous due to the fear of rejection, the scrutiny process devised by the regulators is quite discriminatory. This is also the reason why there is so much delay in issuing the license.
Aside from regular background checks and personal scrutiny, applicants have to explain every transaction over $1000 for the last three years. Not only that, the applicant’s spouse has to undergo the same scrutiny. This personal forensics has absolutely nothing to do with business. It seems like the state is vetting criminals instead of reputable business owners who are trying to become part of legal operations.
Moreover, the joint possession MMJ dispensaries have also extended the scrutiny process. Every person involved with the business is being scrutinized in the same manner. Many people have to come up with joint ownership when they have to open a legal MMJ business because they are not available with the regular facilities of the line of credits and bank loans.
Denise Pollicella is a lawyer representing the state’s marijuana businesses. As per Pollicella, the licensing procedure is really frustrating for many reasons. It’s lengthy, crammed with extensive documents and taking a lot of time. She also believes that the department and the board are not on the same page on the matter of licensing.
Over 200,000 medical marijuana patients in the state are waiting to get their medications from licensed fronts. However, the state’s attitude indicates that they are not in the mood to speed up the process.