Michigan’s unlicensed pot dispensaries to get firm closure deadline

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Lawmakers will try to shutter unlicensed medical marijuana providers once and for all, as of June 1, under a bill now on a fast track in the Legislature.

Earlier efforts to shut down providers who have not yet obtained licenses under Michigan’s new regulatory setup have been thwarted by court challenges.

Under a bill introduced Tuesday and approved by a House panel Wednesday in a 5-0 bipartisan vote, any dispensary that operates without a license as of June 1 will be ineligible to obtain a license for at least one year.

The bill now moves to the full House and has a good chance of passing there and in the Senate.

The state’s latest deadline for unlicensed dispensaries to close — March 31 — was reached more than a week ago and is facing continued challenges in the Michigan Court of Claims. Depending on what happens in court, dispensaries operating under temporary approvals could still be forced to close before June 1.

“It’s sorely needed,” Ann Arbor attorney Benjamin Joffe said of the hard deadline. “My licensees cannot compete with this unregulated market,” and many temporary operators “don’t want to sell tested marijuana,” he said. [Read more at Detroit Free Press]