On Thursday last week (March 28), Judge Stephen Borrello of the Michigan Court of Claims issued a temporary order stopping the state from implementing its decision to close down any medical marijuana dispensary that hadn’t received its license by March 31.
The restraining order gives the businesses in question another 14 days within which to get their operations legalized in accordance with the licensing requirements of the state.
For long, players in the Michigan medical marijuana industry have been complaining that the state takes an inexplicably long time to process and issue a license to an applicant. This slow bureaucratic pace has affected growers, manufacturers and dispensing outlets.
For example, in early February alone, about 150 dispensaries were still awaiting the outcome of their applications for licenses. Similarly, 130 prospective medical cannabis cultivators were also awaiting the fate of their applications for grow licenses.
Because of those complaints, the state decided to allow medical cannabis businesses to open while their applications were still being processed.
However, the state eventually set deadlines for all unlicensed dispensaries to close, but these deadlines have either been unilaterally postponed by the regulators or courts have intervened and forced the state’s hand.
This recent extension is an example of the judiciary stepping in and compelling the state to refrain from implementing its decision to close medical marijuana businesses without licenses.
In response to the restraining order issued by the Court of Claims, the state published a statement in which it revealed that it will hit the brakes on its decision to close unlicensed medical cannabis businesses until court issues further orders or the pending litigation is disposed of by the courts of law.
In a bid to put an end to the endless delays in the licensing process, the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, has established a new agency to superintend over the marijuana industry.
The persistent problems over licensing issues have also come to a head as the state is working to start recreational cannabis sales after voters approved adult-use marijuana during the midterm elections towards the end of last year.
Cannabis advocates worry that if the problems in the medical cannabis sector aren’t fixed in time, then those problems will get worse once recreational cannabis is added to the menu. Wildflower Brands Inc. (CSE: SUN) (OTCQB: WLDFF) and Youngevity International, Inc. (NASDAQ: YGYI) call on the regulators to study what other states have done to streamline the licensing process. Creating new agencies to oversee the industry may not fix the problem if a proper diagnosis of the issues isn’t done.
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