More than 200 medical marijuana businesses in Michigan have been ordered to cease operations by the state.
While most are in Detroit, the list of shops effected includes those in Muskegon, Battle Creek and Allegan County – and one in Grand Rapids.
For a decade now, since voters approved medical marijuana in Michigan, it has been a state of confusion.
A set of laws passed by the state legislature was supposed to make things clearer, but now more than 200 shops are told they are not in compliance.
The owner of the Grassy Knoll in Eastown was not available, but the shop was one of 210 that the state department of Licensing and Regulatory sent to shops around the state.
This comes as the state is implementing a new method for allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to replace the rules – or lack of rules – under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.
“That’s not surprising to me at all, what is surprising to me, I guess, is the scope,” said Brandon Gardner, an attorney with Grand Rapids Cannabis Attorneys and he specializes in the business of medical marijuana. “I would imagine that there’s gonna be a lot of appeal over those, but everybody’s gotta play by the rules, like them or not.”
The closure orders have hit all kinds of businesses including those operating under Rule 19 – the emergency provision that allowed business to continue and provide marijuana to patients during the licensing period.
All of the different parts of the businesses have to be separate – sales, testing, transporting.
“The whole intent of the Facilities Act was to make the consumer have some confidence in what they’re buying,” Gardner said.
Gardner said medical marijuana businesses are subjected to rules that are beyond what any other business has to endure.
“Medical marijuana licenses are in a class of its own when it comes to regulation,” he said.
An example is that not only do the applicants have to pass rigorous background checks and financial requirements, so do their spouses.
“I’ll tell you what, it’s better than what we had,” Gardner said.
Far from being for hobbyists or stoners looking to pen a head shop, Gardner estimates it would take a capital investment of between $250,000 and $750,000 to get into the business legitimately.
He says the people who will be approved are people with backgrounds in finance, real estate and retirees looking to help others in the way they have been helped.
“Frankly, I think that’s a good thing, you want people like that,” he said.
Gardner says things will get worked out, but it’s going to take time.
“I get calls constantly about this exact issue, about the confusion that it has created,” he said. “The worst thing you can do is Google this. You can’t Google this stuff.”
Now, while 200 dispensaries have ordered to close down, state officials say there are still about that number operating so those who use marijuana as medicine should be ok for now.