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Dispensaries, patients, brace for closure ahead of board meeting

Sep 11, 2017

The future of medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan could be decided tomorrow, when the state Medical Marijuana Licensing Board meets again to discuss whether current dispensaries should be able to get a license.

At the last meeting, one member said dispensaries should have to close their doors until the application process opens – or risk not getting a license at all.

The state’s licensing department will make a recommendation on the issue at the meeting.

“We want to make sure we have a fair and efficient process by which we can issue licenses. And that’s where I think that clarity in our approach is of critical importance to these prospective licensees,”  said Andrew Brisbo with the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation in the state’s licensing department. He says the bureau wants to make sure patients have safe access to medical marijuana.

Brisbo says neither the board nor the department have the power to shut down dispensaries.

But just the threat of being denied a license is spooking dispensary owners, employees, and patients.

Dori Edwards works at Bloom City Club in Ann Arbor, where a steady stream of patients came and went on Monday.

Some of the marijuana medicines for sale at Bloom City Club in Ann Arbor
Credit Tracy Samilton

She says in many cases, patients have no alternative to the medicine they get at the dispensary.  She says after trying several different kinds of medical marijuana, Bloom City Club was able to find just the right one for a 12-year-old boy who suffered from seizures due to epilepsy. 

"His son is seizure-free for a year and a half now," says Edwards,  adding that his father "is so happy. I don't know what he is going to do for his son during the interim if they decide to close us down."

There will also be an economic impact. Bloom City Club employs more than 20 people, providing health insurance as well.

"They're worried about losing their jobs," says Edwards.  "We have one of our managers who just bought a house and she's worried about her mortgage payment."