On May 30, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) announced that it amended the emergency rules and extended the deadline for operators of existing medical cannabis facilities to close or potentially harm their chances to obtain a license. LARA lifted that Sword of Damocles from over the heads of dispensary operators by amending the rules and extending the deadline to Sept 15.
Operators of medical cannabis dispensaries in Michigan operating legally under the rules of the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) were living on borrowed time, because the rules required them to receive approval for their operations by the Michigan Medical Marihuana Board (Board) by June 15. The Board, which approves or denies licenses, indicated that it would view negatively those applicants who remained operating after the deadline. Most, if not all, currently open dispensaries would have closed, rather than risk their applications.
The June deadline, coupled with the slow pace of approvals by the Board, meant that there existed a very real threat that dispensaries would need to close or risk losing their opportunity to obtain licenses under the MMFLA, and patients would lose access to their prescribed medicinal cannabis. While applicants likely appreciate the extension, the Board continues its slow pace of consideration. At its most recent meeting, the Board considered 19 licenses, approving 12 for pre-qualification and denying seven others for pre-qualification for a variety of reasons.
Hundreds of applications have poured into LARA, some of which consist of several bankers boxes of materials that require review. Undoubtedly, staff is working diligently to get through the applications, but the number of them and the complexity of the information required add to the pressure of timely decisions.
Applicants should take care to be apprised of the various reasons for denial and learn from others’ failures. An applicant’s success is often dependent on completeness, disclosure and organization. Plunkett Cooney has had the good fortune of having prepared one of the first applications approved by the state through this process.
Considering what is at stake, an investment in developing a sound application is worth the cost, especially if it helps you avoid the disappointment of your application being rejected along with your opportunity to participate in this lucrative new market!
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