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Michigan's Medical Marijuana Licensing Board voted to allow up to 70 medical marijuana provisioning centers to reopen until at least March 31, 2019, while their license applications are under review.

The move follows a series of issues with licensed facilities that have raised concerns over Michigan patients' access to medical cannabis.

In December 2018, one of Detroit's few licensed dispensaries was forced to close after a smash-and-grab robbery. Supplies were further squeezed by product recalls in Detroit and Kalamazoo after products failed laboratory testing. Michigan's Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Board issued another recall announcement for Ypsilanti Jan. 18, 2019.

“We have heard from Michiganders closely affected by the ongoing transition to licensed marijuana facilities,” Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wrote in a news release on Jan. 15, 2019. “It is important that we ensure that patients have access to their medicine while the medical marijuana industry continues to develop.”

A string of closure deadlines and counter-litigation had forced unlicensed dispensaries to shut their doors on Dec. 31, 2018, or risk losing out on getting licensed.

Michigan Has Tried to Shut Down Unlicensed Dispensaries

The chain of events dates back to the summer of 2018, when the slow pace of application reviews prompted the state to push a June 12 deadline forward to Sept. 15, according to a Detroit Free Press report.

But two days before the deadline, state Court of Claims Judge Stephen Borrello granted an injunction filed on behalf of Montrowe dispensary of Jackson. The judge ruled that issuing separate deadlines for dispensaries at different stages of the application process was unconstitutional. The deadline for dispensaries with incomplete applications was extended until Dec. 15, 2018, the Free Press reported.

The last extension was granted in November 2018, when the date was again moved to Dec. 31, according to the Free Press.  

“We've been able to jump back into things pretty quickly,” a Detroit-area dispensary manager, who asked not to be named, told Weedmaps News. “I'd imagine it's much more hectic for someone on a vendor's end who wasn't caught up with production. Now everyone needs everything from everybody.”

The manager told Weedmaps that the provisioning center, a term Michigan uses to refer to dispensaries by law, expects to have their license granted by the new deadline of March 31, 2019.

— Adam Woodhead