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State struggles to finish medical marijuana applications

"354,000 people signed their name on a petition to vote on this issue. They were ignored. I think that's unconscionable," Jamison said.
flickr user Dank Depot

People who want a license to grow or sell medical marijuana in Michigan have yet more uncertainty to deal with when it comes to getting licensed.

People with medical marijuana businesses had until mid-February to get their applications into the state if they wanted to stay open while they waited for a license. If they did, they got a grace period and could stay open until June 15. The thinking was the state would hopefully be able to get them their licenses by that time.

But the state says it might not get through all those applications in time – more than 300 of them.

“We emphasized from the beginning that early submission and complete submission would be critical for timely licensure,” said Andrew Brisbo, director of the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation.

Brisbo said the applications are being reviewed in the order they were received, and there was a big increase in submitted applications right before the deadline.

The department doesn’t plan to send out cease and desist orders or alert law enforcement to shops, if those shops have a pending application that was submitted by the February deadline. However, the board in charge of granting or denying licenses could use a shop’s decision to stay open against them when ultimately deciding if they’ll get a license.

The department essentially prepares the application – verifies the information submitted and conducts background checks, for example – for a board that ultimately decides whether or not a person or organization gets a license. That process can take a long time, and Brisbo said the department doesn’t plan to try and speed up the process.

“It’s just gonna result in more questions [by the board] and requesting additional information so for us to push things forward faster I don’t think is gonna achieve the desired result there,” he said.

Brisbo said Michigan could see its first licensed medical marijuana business up and running within the next month to month and a half.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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