March 29 2018 10:45 AM

Dispensaries sue Lansing over license denials


Five local dispensaries are suing the city of Lansing after they were denied licenses last week. The city claims the five businesses’ disposal plans for excess marijuana didn’t meet the standards of state rules, said Joshua Covert, who is an attorney representing the businesses.

Got Meds, Green Mile, Emerald City, Dank House and Cedar Leaf are among 18 businesses that Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope has denied licenses to in recent weeks. The five businesses are suing in Ingham County Circuit Court.

Swope said the 18 were denied due to building code and sanitation-related issues.

As a result of the denial, City Attorney Jim Smiertka determined that the businesses had to cease operations immediately under emergency state licensing rules. They were served with a cease and desist orders on March 19.

“We immediately filed for a temporary restraining order against the city after that happened,” said Covert. “We are still waiting on a decision on that request.”

The case was assigned to Ingham County Circuit Judge James Jamo, who is also hearing the suit by a different group of dispensary owners against Swope for invalidating petitions to repeal the city’s new medical marijuana ordinance or place it on the ballot.

Covert said state regulations related to medical marijuana disposal are not as clear as they should be. “It’s like the state cut some corners here,” he said. That is resulting in differing legal opinions about what the disposal protocols and processes must look like.

“The city should have a wind-down time,” said Covert, “so businesses have an opportunity to advise their patients on where to get their medicine, as well as to sell off their product. There is not currently a legal way to transfer it anywhere else.”

Because of the closures, the businesses are suffering economic harm, Covert said Smiertka noted that the businesses still have appeals available to them under the ordinance. The first appeal would go to an independent outside reviewer. If that decision is unfavorable to the business, then the decisions are appealed to the city’s Medical Marijuana Commission. If that body upholds the license rejection, it is considered final.

“We will be filing appeals,” said Covert.

“But under the ordinance the decision is not final until it’s heard by the commission.”