Michigan Sees A Shortage of Medical Cannabis So Unlicensed Facilities Are Re-opened

[Editor’s Note: The Licensing and Regulatory Affairs division of Michigan did the right thing. There were a lot of Michigan patients who lost access to their medical cannabis. Here’s what we published on Monday.]

At the beginning of the year Michigan legislature required that all non-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries shut down until proper licensing is obtained. Unfortunately, the closing of over 70 dispensaries left very few with their doors open to patients. This, in turn, abruptly left many patients without access to their medicine.

Last Wednesday, the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board agreed in a unanimous 4-0 vote to allow dispensaries that are in the process of applying for a license and have a local buy-in to re-open their doors – at least until March 31st.

“We have heard from Michiganders closely affected by the ongoing transition to licensed marijuana facilities,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a news release Tuesday. “It is important that we ensure that patients have access to their medicine while the medical marijuana industry continues to develop.”

Along with the lack of open dispensaries, 72 unlicensed provisioning centers were closed at the start of the year and there are not enough established licensed growers in the state. All of this has led to an extreme shortage of product. Regulators have now put temporary regulations in place in an effort to fix this problem, allowing licensed provisioning centers to continue buying marijuana from a caregiver or temporarily operating facility and sell it without testing it until March 31st.

“There is a shortage of supply in the market because there are only a handful of licensed growers in Michigan,” Jeff Schroder with law firm Plunkett Cooney said. “This would allow dispensaries and retail provisioning centers to purchase their quantities from caregivers again.”

However, patients are required to sign an acknowledgement that states that the product has not met complete testing requirements before they are able to purchase it. As it stands now, there are nearly 300,000 medical marijuana cardholders in the state of Michigan. For several years they have been purchasing their medical marijuana from local dispensaries that get their product from unlicensed growers or even local caregivers – so most of them are frustrated with the less than smooth transition to a more regulated market.

“I think it’s a step forward,” said The Reef’s Rush Hassan. “It’s definitely a short term solution but it does open up patient access for these products.”

Until the medical marijuana industry in the state is functioning optimally, it will be almost impossible to successfully roll out the recreational industry that was legalized in November 2018. Hopefully by the time these temporary regulations expire at the end of March there will be enough licenses for the industry to properly sustain itself.

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