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LARA Extends June 15th Temporary Authorization Deadline for Dispensaries

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Yesterday, May 30th, 2018, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (“LARA”) made the decision to extend the June 15th deadline requiring all provisioning centers to either have a license under the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (“MMFLA”) or shut down. This decision does not come as a surprise to many as it appeared that LARA and the Licensing Board would not have been able to issue a single provisioning center operating license before June 15th, meaning all dispensaries would have needed to shut down.

This extension applies only to applicants who turned in their application by the February 15th deadline and continue to make a good faith effort to be licensed and comply with Rule 19 of the emergency rules. The extension was announced as part of LARA’s re-issuing of the Emergency Rules originally published by LARA last year and were set to expire in early June. Other than extending the deadline, one change made by the new emergency rules is the addition of clarifying language regarding safety testing standards that LARA has previously released through technical advisories.

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LARA also issued an advisory document along with the new emergency rules. The document explained that the deadline was extended:

To help ensure the continued protection of medical marihuana patients, under the new rules, proposed medical marihuana facilities that would otherwise require a state operating license under the MMFLA may continue to operate with local approval until September 15, 2018 without impacting the applicant’s eligibility for licensure.

“Extending the deadline to September 15th will make sure that this law is implemented correctly and assure that potential licensees are thoroughly reviewed. It is important that we ensure that medical marihuana patients have continued access to their medicine,” said LARA Director Shelly Edgerton.

Applicants who turned in their state application by the February 15th deadline – and are making a good-faith effort to become licensed – had faced a deadline of June 15, 2018 to shut down or risk continued activity being considered an impediment to licensure by the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board (MMLB). This 92-day extension will allow the bureau and the board enough time to investigate and authorize facility operator licenses in order to make sure that access to medical marihuana is maintained.

It is important for applicants to remember that as any operation past September 15th without a MMFLA license will be considered unlicensed activity by LARA.  Until a license is received from the state, the operation of a medical marihuana facility would be considered a business risk by the operator, and noncompliance will be grounds for referral to law enforcement for unlicensed activity by LARA. However, licensure decisions will be ultimately made by the members of the Licensing Board, who may choose to consider or ignore unlicensed activity as part of the licensing criteria when deliberating on the overall application.

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