Medical Marijuana application deadline remains Feb. 1


City Commission members discuss zoning ordinances for medical marijuana facilities on March 12 at Mt. Pleasant City Hall. 

During a work session at the Mount Pleasant City Commission meeting on Sept. 24, the commission decided to keep the initial application deadline for the Medical Marijuana Facility Licensing, after it was proposed to be moved up. 

Initially, city commission set the application deadline to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 1 to accommodate the holiday season and allow for a longer application period, but an amendment was proposed by Commissioner Kathleen Ling at a Sept. 10 work session to move the deadline to Dec. 14, 2018. 

“Recreational Marijuana will be on the November ballot and everything I have seen so far projects it will pass,” Commissioner Tony Kulick said. “Why would I want to go get medical marijuana when I could go get ‘fun marijuana’ starting next year?” 

Commissioner Lori Gillis also supported the Feb. 1 deadline.  

“A larger application pool would be the fairest,” Commissioner Gillis said. “More fish make a better pond.” 

Gillis believes there is no rush, because patients are already getting medication in cities that have already opened dispensaries, like Lansing and Detroit. She would much rather have a diverse pool with a higher chance that local community members will receive licenses. 

There is no way to know community members will apply for the licenses if we set the deadline for Feb. 1, Commissioner Will Joseph said, approving to move the deadline to Dec. 14. 

Detroit native Omar Fakhouri had followed Mount Pleasant’s medical marijuana ordinance process for two years and attended the Sept. 24 meeting to voice his belief that the city commission was “looking at the application with the completely wrong lens.” 

In an email to the city commission and Department Staff, Fakhouri said pushing back the deadline would inhibit patients of medication for 6-12 months and delay Mount Pleasant’s financial benefit. 

“The idea of extending the application period further to allow for constituents to be pre-qualified is frankly unethical and lacks compassion (and) consideration to those sick and in need,” said Fakhouri.  

Despite some support from the community, the proposed amendment failed to pass with a 4-3 vote. 

Mount Pleasant opted into the Michigan Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMMFLA) after it was passed in 2016. The act allows municipalities who opt in any of five facility types created under the act: provisioning centers, processors, safety compliance facilities, secure transporters, and growers. 

Mount Pleasant applicants can apply for one of five growing licenses or three provisioning center licenses.

As of Sept. 10, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) had approved 25-30 of the 600 applications in the pipeline – where applications sit until they are reviewed and considered for approval by LARA.

Department of Public Safety and Police Chief Paul Lauria said since LARA began looking at applications in May 2018, the organization has gradually gotten accustomed to considering and approving applications making the process quicker.

From the final pool of approved applicants, the city will draw the beneficiaries of the licenses. The winners of this lottery will be allowed to set up shop in any community that has opted in to the MMMFLA.