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Lawmakers Attempt To Override State Department On Marijuana Dispensaries

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Lawmakers in Lansing say they want a seamless transition as marijuana dispensaries start to get licensed. 

Democrats in the House and Senate introduced legislation Wednesday.  A few Republicans have voiced support of the bills.  The legislation would let dispensaries keep their doors open while they wait for a license. 

Pot shops have to close their doors by December 15th or risk not getting a license.  That’s the same day a state board will begin accepting applications for licenses.  A state department overseeing medical marijuana dispensaries announced this rule earlier in the month. 

Patients and dispensary owners decried the decision.  They say cutting off a source of medication would be bad for patient’s health. 

“I thought that this was taken care of. I thought that we were done coming here and fighting for this,” said Ida Chinonis.  Her daughter Bella has been a medical marijuana patient for years.  “I don’t understand why we are still here.  We need safe access.  I cannot stockpile five different medications for over a year.”

Thestate Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs says its rule ensures the licensing procedure is fair and efficient. 

But military veteran Justin Nichols, who uses marijuana medication for pain and to help him sleep, says the department’s rule is a slap in the face to veterans. 

“This is providing a massive benefit,” he said.  “I would say the biggest one was letting me get outside of myself.”

Representative Yousef Rabhi(D-Ann Arbor) is a House bill sponsor, while Senator David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) is a bill sponsor in the other chamber. 

Rabhi said the state department overreached.

“It can be a matter of life and death,” he said.  “So we can’t stand on the sidelines and let the government stand in the way of people getting safe access to care.”

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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