The past week has been a busy one in the City of Detroit when it comes to Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act issues. The City application deadline for currently operating facilities was February 15. The Wayne County Circuit Court’s Chief Judge, Robert Colombo, Jr. issued a ruling regarding the voter initiatives and Provisioning Center (Dispensary) zoning requirements. Finally, the City issued a moratorium on applications and approvals for new medical marijuana dispensaries within the City of Detroit.

Detroit MMFLA Deadline Comes and Goes:
If you were a medical marijuana Provisioning Center (Dispensary) owner and you were on the City’s approved operating list, you were required to submit your application to the State of Michigan Bureau of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs by February 15, 2018. That application also had to be filed with the City of Detroit for municipal attestation of operating approval by that date as well. If you did not get your application in by February 15, 2018, whether or not you were on the approved list, and regardless of whether you have been operating with City approval, your license with the City will not be renewed. Nor will your present municipal license to operate be renewed. In short, if you didn’t get your application in by February 15, 2018, your out of luck after the expiration of you present license, at least, within the limits of the City of Detroit, for at a minimum of six months, until the moratorium is passed. Even then, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to apply, or be approved, once the moratorium is over. All the more reason to inquire about the regulations and rules with a medical marijuana licensing attorney who understands the complexities of this ever-changing and complex area of law.

Moratorium on New Dispensaries:

Detroit has placed a six month moratorium on applications for Medical Marijuana Provisioning Center (Dispensary) licenses as of February 15. The City has stated that it will not issue any new Provisioning Center (Dispensary) licenses during that six month period. Even more significantly, for dispensaries that were operating under a municipal license or under a contractual agreement with the City that they would not shut your facility down, if you did not submit your State Application for a Provisioning Center (Dispensary) license, and submit your application to the City of Detroit for an attestation by close of business on February 15, 2018, you will not be approved to operate, and your presently issued and valid license to operate in the City, will not be renewed. Businesses that did not get their applications in by the deadline will have to wait until at least after the moratorium is over before they can attempt to re-apply. There has been a lot discussion that the City may not issue any more licenses after that moratorium is passed, which it would be within its rights to do. As a result, if you didn’t get your application in before the deadline, you should talk with a medical marijuana licensing attorney to discuss your options moving forward.

Circuit Court Strikes Down Zoning Initiative:

The final news regards the voter initiatives that were passed in November which changed the zoning requirements for dispensaries. Voters approved a reduction in the zoning limitations regarding medical marijuana dispensaries. The ordinance required that a Provisioning Center (Dispensary) had to be at least 1000 feet away from a church or school. The initiatives proposed to reduce the zoning requirements so that dispensaries only had to be less than 500 feet away from a church or school. The City of Detroit challenged the legality of the voter initiatives and filed a suit in the Wayne County Circuit Court. On Friday, Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Robert Colombo, Jr. determined that under the Home Rule statute, which governs how cities like Detroit are run and governed in the State of Michigan, zoning restrictions and requirements could not be changed by voter initiative. As a result, the initiatives were struck down and the original zoning limits are again in place. While several citizen groups are vowing an appeal, it will be some time before the Court of Appeals and, ultimately, the Michigan Supreme Court can weigh in on the issue. The zoning ordinance, if it remains unchanged, will likely also impact new types of Medical Marijuana Facilities approved for licensing under the MMFLA.

How Does This Impact My Application?:
If you are a Provisioning Center (Dispensary) operating lawfully in Detroit right now, and you submitted your application to the State and the City by February 15, 2018, then, these changes will have little to no impact on you. Anyone operating a facility in Detroit who did not apply by the deadline, or who is operating illegally and is not on the Detroit approved facilities’ list, the decision could be devastating. You may not be able to operate your facility after the end of the year, or sooner, depending on the nature of your facility. If you are not on the approved list, you will not be able to obtain city approval to operate, which is a condition precedent to obtaining your State license. As a result, you will not be able to obtain an operating license from the State, and your unregulated facility is likely to become a target of State regulators. If you were operating legally, but did not get your application in to the City or the State by February 15, 2018, you will not be municipally approved to continue operating past your current licensing date. There is also no guarantee that you will be able to submit an application after the present six month moratorium, nor is there any reason to believe that the City will approve any more applications for dispensaries.
If your desire is to continue providing patients with medication, you need to speak with a knowledgeable medical marijuana licensing attorney to help you come up with a plan on how you can attempt to continue in the industry.

If you want to discuss obtaining a license under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act,
be it a Provisioning Center (Dispensary), processing center, grow operation, testing laboratory or secured transporter,
contact Fowler & Williams, PLC today for a consultation.