Sept. 10 2018 11:45 AM

Local licensing system remains stagnant amid statewide changes

MONDAY, SEPT. 10 — Medical marijuana businesses caught up in a complex licensing structure will likely have more time to continue business as usual as officials look to extend a deadline surrounding their regulation.


Existing emergency rules governing the market — already twice extended by Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs — would force unlicensed pot-repreneurs to close their doors by Saturday or else risk never receiving a license to operate. But that deadline could soon be extended again, officials suggested.


Andrew Brisbo, director of Michigan’s Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, announced today his department’s intent to extend the deadline through a new set of emergency rules pegged to be finalized by tomorrow. He declined, however, to provide much clarity about the change ahead of a formal announcement.


“Once those emergency rules to extend it are finalized for certain operators, that information will be made public with more clarity,” Brisbo said, declining to elaborate further beyond noting there’ll be a “scope of operators” that will fit into the soon-to-be-announced parameters under a new set of emergency state guidelines.


The Medical Marihuana Licensing Board granted preliminary approval today to nine medical marijuana-related business ventures and offered full-fledged operating licenses to another 22 enterprises. A total of 37 licenses have now been granted by the board and 73 different businesses have received the state’s nod for prequalification.


Brisbo suggested the latest round of approvals should help quell concerns from those who have complained about a potential lack of marijuana availability for patients statewide. The decision to extend the date, instead, was based on ensuring businesses can continue to operate while the regulatory system catches up, he said.


“I think there is availability, particularly based on the number of approvals we had today. But more certainly couldn’t hurt,” Brisbo added. “We’ve heard a lot of concerns over the past month and we want to make sure those concerns are heard and considered and that we’ve taken the appropriate action.”


The list of dispensaries and other marijuana-related businesses operating in Lansing, however, continues to shrink as City Clerk Chris Swope denies additional license applications. Businesses need local approval before the state can grant a license, and Lansing as of this week has yet to formally OK a single provisioning center.


Twenty-seven dispensary applications were still pending this week for a maximum of 25 local licenses. The remaining 58 applicants have either been denied or withdrawn their applications for a provisioning center. And those who have been denied have since been asked to cease operations regardless of their state applications.


Entrepreneurs who have been denied a local license still have the ability to appeal Swope’s decision. And those businesses will need the ability to fit into a limited market should their appeals succeed. The unforeseen complication has essentially frozen the market until the appeals can finish making their way through the system.


Accordingly, the latest round of state approvals didn’t grant a license to a single Lansing-based business. Oasis Wellness Center of Lansing — with local approval for two local growing operations and two processing facilities — was denied for state prequalification for those and several other business enterprises across mid-Michigan.


City records indicate Oasis planned five local businesses centered around Beech and Hazel streets. The state board suggested the owner was arrested twice but failed to disclose that information in its state applications. The would-be shops were also turned down based on the poor “moral integrity” of the company’s founders.


Capital Transport — a secure medical marijuana transporter with plans to open on Rensen Street — is the only business in Lansing to receive full approval from both the city and state regulators, according to a City Pulse analysis. Green Peak Innovations is also the only local company to receive preliminary approval, records state.


Those business plans include three dispensaries and two growing facilities in Lansing. But local licenses for both of the growing facilities and one for a dispensary are still listed as “pending” in city records, further delaying the company’s ability to move forward into the market. Two of the local dispensary licenses were also locally denied.


Other would-be dispensaries — like Huron Wellness Solutions, Superior Wellness Solutions and Seman Consulting Services’ “Green Crush” provisioning center — have since been denied local licenses but have filed lawsuits against the city amid an effort to reverse the decisions. Those cases remained ongoing this week.


Visit lansingcitypulse.com for previous and continued coverage on the statewide medical marijuana market as the new emergency rules are promulgated and the two-fold licensing and appeals process continues.


Further clarification regarding the upcoming state deadline extension is expected to arrive by Tuesday afternoon.

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