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Lansing — Unlicensed medical marijuana businesses must close by New Year’s Day or risk their state licensing applications. 

In an end-of-year and presumably final deadline for the medical pot businesses, the state department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs said “any unlicensed operation after Dec. 31 may be considered an impediment to licensure."

The deadline could affect roughly 72 businesses that were allowed to continue operating while seeking a license; however, it is unclear whether all of those 72 are still open and operating, according to the state. 

After Dec. 31, any unlicensed medical marijuana businesses still operating could face ramifications when it comes to consideration of their state license applications.

The announcement of the final deadline came Friday as Judge Stephen Borrello dismissed a pending court case filed against the state by medical marijuana business First Class Inc., a court case in which the judge had issued a temporary restraining order barring the state from enforcing an Oct. 31 deadline.

Borrello’s restraining order ended Dec. 15, but the state had reached a separate agreement with the city of Lansing in late November, promising that it would not shut down any pot shops before Dec. 31. The agreement was an effort to accommodate Lansing’s applicant review process, which has been beset with litigation and delays.

When issuing his restraining order in October, Borrello had called the state’s Oct. 31 deadline “arbitrary and capricious." The ruling marked the fourth time in 2018 that the licensing deadline for existing medical marijuana businesses had been pushed back.

The Dec. 31 deadline is unaffected by a law signed by Gov. Rick Snyder Friday amending sections of the 2016 Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, which implements criminal penalties starting June 1 for unlicensed facilities operating as a marijuana facility. 

Prior to that implementation, between Jan. 1 and June 1, facilities operating without licenses could face both licensing sanctions and criminal charges under the 2008 Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. 

More than 200 medical marijuana shops applied by Feb. 15 to continue operating while seeking licenses and were given a deadline to obtain those licenses by June 15. But that deadline was later pushed to Sept. 15, then Dec. 15 by court order, then back to Oct. 31 by the department.

As of Dec. 21, the state's Medical Marijuana Licensing Board had issued 99 state operating licenses to medical marijuana businesses that included growers, processors, provisioning centers, testing facilities and transporters. The state had denied 101 prequalification applications and 35 state operating license applications.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3661

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