- 9 additional medical marijuana facilities licenses awarded
- Two safety compliance facilities awarded licenses, finally completing the system
- Still nearly 200 facilities operating under temporary status waiting to be approved
The Bureau for Medical Marijuana Regulation (BMMR) held a meeting on Thursday, August 9 to review applications of 10 marijuana businesses in Michigan. They awarded licenses to 9 of the 10 applicants, increasing the total number of licensed medical marijuana businesses to 16. These are the organizations receiving new licenses :
- VB Chesaning LLC, processor located in Chesaning
- Choice Labs LLC, provisioning center in Jackson
- Iron Laboratories LLC, safety compliance facility in Walled Lake
- Blackrock Management LLC, provisioning center in Detroit
- Vendo Michigan Inc., provisioning center in Burton
- Green Skies- Far West LLC, provisioning center in Detroit
- Green Skies- Hoover LLC, provisioning center in Detroit
- Green Skies- Healing Tree LLC, provisioning center in Detroit
- PSI Labs- safety compliance facility in Ann Arbor
Awarding new licenses is always good news for the cannabis industry in Michigan, but more importantly the patient base. Furthermore, the state has finally licensed two safety compliance facilities, effectively completing the system. In the first round of awarded licenses, the BMMR did not license a single testing lab. This left all other licensees stuck in the mud with no one to test the product.
Progress is being made, but at an excruciatingly slow pace. Since the deadline was extended the BMMR has granted 16 licenses, a tiny fraction of the nearly 650 in line to be processed. There are 175 applications with local approval, and 459 waiting to be approved at the municipal level. With only one more meeting before the September 15 deadline, there is little chance the board makes any significant progress towards the massive number of pending applications.
Let’s take a step back to understand how this mess was started in the first place. After applications were opened in December of last year, a total of 215 applicants made the February 15 deadline for business operating at that time. Those 215 have since been operating under a temporary status, awarded out of necessity so patients were still able to access medication. The state self-imposed the June 15 deadline, to allow time for all applications to be vetted and award licenses. As June 15 arrived, there was not a single licenses awarded, and the state then extended the deadline to September 15.
All medical marijuana businesses must be licensed by September 15 to remain operational, and there is no way the state is able to move through the nearly 200 applications remaining for temporary operators. So, because of the state’s inability to work through all those applications in time, those businesses who are not awarded a license by September must close doors. As previously mentioned, there is also a massive amount of new business applications waiting to be processed.
Who is Impacted
Michigan’s remarkable medical marijuana patient base is at the mercy of the state’s lagging progress. With over 290,000 card-holders, Michigan’s patient base is larger than the number of medical marijuana patients in all of Canada.
According to Andrew Brisbo, director of the BMMR, ⅔ of all card-holders are within 30 miles of a provisioning center, which they consider acceptable. However, that gives nearly 100,000 patients a significant commute to access their medication. These are patients suffering from conditions ranging from chronic pain to cancer, which may make commuting a major obstacle.
What Needs to be Done
The MMFLA was initiated in Michigan to give patients access to alternative medicine, that in many cases they rely on. The state is failing to follow through with their job, which is affecting patients and business owners all over Michigan. There is one simple solution however: extend the deadline again. Another deadline extension would give the BMMR the time they need to effectively consider all applications.
LARA spokesperson David Hearns said simply, “It will not be extended. It cannot be extended”, regarding the deadline.
Despite the obvious need for more facilities, and the additional time attached to this necessity, it seems LARA and the BMMR will hold firm. With the September deadline approaching quickly, only time will tell how much progress is made by LARA and the BMMR. For patients and businesses alike, we all hope it is significant.