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THURSDAY, Jan. 24 — Provisioning Center remains closed after losing a legal battle yesterday with the city of Lansing.
Thirtieth Circuit Judge Wanda Stokes ruled against the dispensary’s lawsuit. Owner Tom Mayes said he’s considering filing an appeal. For now, his medical marijuana dispensary will stay closed.
“It’s just disappointing,” Mayes added. “We want to continue to fight this, but it’s just tough to figure these things out right now. Our main goal was just to be able to reopen, and we’re going to stay focused on that.”
occupies one of more prominent locations, at the intersection of Oakland Avenue and Cedar Street, which city officials abruptly ordered closed last year after state regulators denied Mayes an operating license. The city followed suit with a denial of its own the same week.
Recently revised state regulations ultimately allow unlicensed dispensaries, like , to operate through the end of March as they continue to pursue state licensure. But without the mandatory nod from city officials as well, those dispensaries are effectively prohibited from operating, as outlined in state regulations.
Although Mayes is still looking to appeal the state denial from the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board, his business operations — including about $700,000 in monthly revenue — were banned within city limits after Lansing officials ruled ineligible for a local license and ordered the dispensary to cease all operations.
The state licensing board, when it denied Mayes’ bid for prequalification in October, didn’t offer much of an explanation. Regulations regarding “personal and business probity” and “financial ability” were referenced before the board ultimately rejected the dispensary. Mayes is appealing to eventually overturn that decision.
But while state regulations could have still enabled to continue business through the end of March, city officials didn’t give Mayes the chance. A subsequent notice from City Clerk Chris Swope said Lansing was no longer considering for licensure specifically because the state had turned it down for prequalification.
And Mayes quickly filed a lawsuit in response. His attorneys argued still had “ample opportunity” to overturn its state licensing decision. Filings argued Swope had “erroneously” denied license based on an “incorrect interpretation” of state law, leaving Mayes with no other option other than to file a lawsuit.
“It appears that (Swope) would rather expedite the city's approval process by misapplying the very ordinance that authorizes his conduct than administer the ordinance in a lawful and accurate manner, which would take much longer to do,” according to court filings, noting the city had “crippled” Mayes’ potential for revenue.
City attorneys instead said that a failure to obtain state licensure also served as grounds for local denial. They argued Mayes’ lawsuit was premature and should be dismissed until his appeals with both the city and state are finished. And Stokes agreed. City Attorney Jim said his office is preparing an order to dismiss the case.
The city argued that only sought to “circumvent the administrative appeals process” and its lawsuit was “prematurely” aiming to overturn the denial before a “final decision” had been made. City ordinances also dictate that local licenses can be denied when shops are rejected licenses at the state level.
Mayes said state officials plan to review their licensing decision for his dispensary in March. In the meantime, he’s still focused on ensuring he will have a place in Lansing’s limited medical marijuana market. The city allows licenses for 25 dispensaries, of which 13 have been approved.
“We might just focus on our prequalification appeal and then reapply with the city,” Mayes added.
Meanwhile, two other lawsuits filed against the city also aim to ensure that would-be dispensaries have an adequate chance to earn one of the remaining licenses. Seven more are set to be doled out in the first round; Five more applications will be accepted at a yet-to-be determined date for another round of approvals.
Court records indicate Huron Wellness Solutions and Superior Wellness Solutions both filed similar lawsuits last year. Their attorneys contended the city erred when it denied the businesses for an “inadequate” waste disposal plan. Both cases are ongoing. Oral arguments have been requested; No hearings are scheduled.
Visit lansingcitypulse.com for previous and continued coverage on medical marijuana regulation in Lansing.