Medical marijuana dispensaries get green light

    Wikipedia Commons

    With medical marijuana said to be in short supply, the state’s regulatory body on Wednesday lent a helping hand. Dispensaries will be allowed to reopen even without a license.

    The state’s Medical Marihuana Licensing Board (MMLB) voted unanimously to allow retail provisioning centers to source product from certified caregivers through March 31. During that same period, growers still working through the licensing processing will be allowed to operate in order to build up supply.

    The move is needed is needed in order to help supply catch up with demand in Michigan’s regulated medical marijuana market, according to state officials.

    \Gretchen Whitmer | Wikipedia Commons

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

    As the Advance reported last month, the MMLB has come under fire for acting “arbitrarily and capriciously” when denying licenses.

    Robin Schneider, a representative with the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, raised concerns about the political makeup of the licensing board, communication taking place behind the scenes, and applicants “not getting their due process” during appeals.

    The market for regulated medical marijuana has been in a disarray of sorts as 72 businesses had to close at the end of last year due to an expiring court order, as MLive reported at the time.

    While the move by the MMLB could help growers ramp up their operations by the spring in order to supply the retail side of the industry, at least one company working in the space expressed concern that allowing caregivers to supply provisioning centers presents the possibility of untested product making its way into the market.

    That’s according to executives with Green Peak Innovations, a medical marijuana growing operation — said to be Michigan’s largest — that operates in a facility just outside of Lansing.

    Orlene Hawks | LARA

    “It’s a difficult time for patients right now,” Joe Neller, Green Peak’s vice president for government affairs and business development, said in a statement. “Patients need access but they also need to understand the products they have used in the past could actually be doing more harm than good. We are calling on Governor Whitmer, the legislature and LARA to reconsider this decision in the best interest of all patients across Michigan.”

    Orlene Hawks, the state’s director for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), which oversees medical marijuana licensing, disagrees, saying in a statement: “This recommendation will extend the temporary operation of facilities and allow licensed businesses to remain competitive during this transition period.”  

    Also at its meeting today, the MMLB approved five new licenses around the state, bringing the statewide total to 104 licenses around the state, according to figures from LARA.

    Nick Manes
    Nick Manes covers West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels. His byline also has appeared in Route Fifty and The Daily Beast. When not reporting around the state or furiously tweeting, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Krista, biking around his hometown of Grand Rapids and torturing himself rooting for the Detroit Lions.

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