CLOSE OR BE DENIED! In a major year-end development, the Michigan Court of Claims today dismissed the last of the cases that allowed unlicensed Michigan medical marihuana facilities to operate. All court orders preventing Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) from setting a date by which the so-called temporary operators must close have now been dissolved—technically, that leaves in place the emergency rule by which unlicensed facilities must close by October 31, 2018, although the court had enjoined enforcement of that until its order was dissolved today. In an Advisory Bulletin issued late this afternoon, LARA announced that it would extend temporary operation until December 31, but no longer.
While there have been rumors that the Michigan Legislature’s amendments to the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act that passed last week (Senate Bill 1262) give facilities until June 1 to close, those rumors are not correct. SB 1262 has not yet been signed by the Governor and is not in effect. Further, what SB 1262 will do is create a new crime for operating without a license after June 1, 2019; it does not change the fact that sales of marihuana/medical marihuana (other than caregiver to connected patient) are already illegal under existing law, as held by the Michigan Supreme Court in the well-known McQueen case. Although it is possible that the incoming new administration of Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer could revisit this issue, that is not likely to occur immediately—thus anyone who continues to operate a temporary facility after January 1 is taking a very significant risk that they will lose any chance to get licensed, and may well face criminal prosecution.