Michigan orders closure of 210 marijuana shops

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Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan regulators said Thursday that they ordered the closure of 210 medical marijuana businesses over a two-week period, largely because their owners failed to apply for a state license by a mid-February deadline or did not receive authorization from their municipalities.

Most of the shops — 158 — were in Detroit. Authorities also hand-delivered orders to eight businesses in Lansing, seven in Flint, five in Gaylord, three each in Ann Arbor and Battle Creek, and smaller numbers elsewhere.

Shops that did not close immediately could be denied a license down the line if they apply, be referred to local, state or federal law enforcement, or face other penalties or sanctions.

“We had our team scour publicly available information to create a list and then we cross-referenced it with those who did turn in applications,” said David Harns, spokesman for the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which includes the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation.

The cease-and-desist orders come as the state continues the process of more tightly regulating the medical marijuana industry under a 2016 law that aimed in part to address confusion surrounding the legality of dispensary shops that opened after voters in 2008 authorized marijuana for medical use. The new law includes a 3 percent tax on provisioning centers.

Initial licenses to grow, process, sell, transport or test marijuana will be issued by June 15.

Some 215 businesses that submitted a prequalification license application had the appropriate sign-off from a local clerk attesting that they can operate temporarily while awaiting a state license.

Harns said the 210 shops that were ordered to close did not apply for a license, applied too late, submitted an application without their municipality’s blessing or possibly filled out some information incorrectly.

“If it’s considered an incomplete application, it can possibly be fixed,” he said. “Our team is receiving phone calls from people who have questions about this. … If they feel like they received a letter in error, we obviously have an open form of communication with them.”

Roughly 277,000 patients are registered with the state to grow their own marijuana or obtain it from 43,000 registered caregivers who can supply a limited number of people.

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