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State To Let Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Stay Open While Awaiting Licensure

Wikipedia Media Commons

The state department that regulates medical marijuana will allow dispensaries to stay open while details get worked out about how licenses will be issued.

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) originally considered giving marijuana shops until mid-December to close their doors – or risk not getting a license.  Numerous patients and dispensary owners spoke out against the decision.  They said it would hurt a patient’s ability to get their medication. 

The feedback played a big role in the decision, said Director ofLARA’s Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation Andrew Brisbo.

“To ensure continuous access for the most vulnerable of patients, it was important that we consider how we might make an adjustment to allow for these existing facilities to transition to the new regulatory program,” he said.

Patients told state officials that they have specific needs for medical marijuana and have built relationships with their dispensaries.  If the department doesn’t let the shops stay open, the patients said, they would risk not getting the specific medication they needed.

“That’s something that we kept hearing is it can’t just be replaced with the caregiver model because they have those very specific needs,” Brisbo said.  “So it will allow them to continue those relationships.”

Brisbo said this does not automatically authorize facilities to operate before they get a license.

“What we’re looking at is how existing operation is considered in part of the licensure process and not considering it an impediment,” he said.

Dispensaries will need to get approval from the local government they operate in, and be able to prove it, or risk not getting a state license if they choose to stay open.

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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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