Some medical marijuana dispensaries that have been legitimately operating under temporary, emergency rules while they’re waiting to see if they get a license from the state got an unpleasant surprise recently: cease and desist letters ordering them to stop doing business or risk any chance of getting a license.
The rub: the letters are fake, according to the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
The letters, some of which were taped up on the doors of the businesses, resembled the cease and desist letters that the state delivered to 213 businesses over the last month. Those businesses had been operating without having applied for a license from the state and didn’t have approval from the communities where they were located. Those letters were legitimate and warned the businesses that if they didn’t stop operating that they risked any chance of getting a license from the state.
The state stopped delivering those letters on April 18. The latest fraudulent letters were delivered in the last couple of days and have prompted a joint investigation by the state’s Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation and the Michigan State Police.
The state is asking any business that received a cease and desist letter after April 19 to call 517-284-8599.
“BMMR Enforcement Officers carry a form of identification that makes it clear that they work for the bureau,” the department said in a statement, urging business owners to ask to see identification if they’re served with a cease and desist order.
And going forward, the department said any official communications will be delivered by mail and not in-person.
The state won’t say how many business have gotten the fraudulent cease and desist orders or speculate on the motive behind the orders, said David Harns, spokesman for LARA.
But the medical marijuana business has become a cutthroat industry and several people have complained at licensing board hearings that the businesses operating under the emergency rules have an unfair advantage over businesses that are waiting to open until their licenses are approved.