2018-07-11 / Editorial

State should’ve anticipated backlog for marijuana licenses

One needs a score card to keep up with the State of Michigan as it continues to wrestle with how to regulate and license medical marijuana regulation dispensaries. Lawmakers and state officials charged with the task to get a handle of the budding cannabis industry have been at it since voters overwhelmingly approved an initiative in 2008 to legalize use of marijuana (products) to assist people with serious health issues.

The wait continues.

The Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board was supposed to give out the first licenses to medical marijuana dispensary license holders in the first week of June. That didn’t happen.

Amazingly, 19 months after the law was passed to regulate and tax the medical marijuana market and six months after the state began accepting applications for those businesses, not a single license has been awarded.

While a half-dozen individuals and companies await licensing approval from the Michigan Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to set up medical marijuana dispensaries in Lapeer, LARA on Monday approved adding 11 new medical condition conditions to the list of debilitating medical conditions set forth in the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act of 2008.

In a statement on the agency’s website Director Shelly Edgerton announced, “With the changes in state law to include marijuana-infused products, and the advancement of marijuana research, and upon the recommendation of the panel members, I’ve added these 11 conditions to the approved list,” said Edgerton. “I’d like to thank the members of the review panel for their hard work in discussing these petitions and making their recommendations.”

New conditions approved by Edgerton are: arthritis, autism, chronic pain, colitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injury, Tourette’s Syndrome and ulcerative colitis.

At the same time, Edgerton denied allowing the following ailments to the list of conditions Lapeer County and Michigan residents might have sought relief from, including: Anxiety, asthma, brain injury, depression, diabetes, gastric ulcer, non-severe and non-chronic pain, organ transplant, panic attacks, schizophrenia and social anxiety disorder.

The Medical Marijuana Review Panel made their recommendations to Edgerton after receiving citizen comments in April and May related to the petitions to add medical conditions to the list.

Monday’s announcement by LARA follows a May revelation that state laws will allow the sale of CBD (oil based cannibus) to medical marijuana patients in Lapeer County and across the state.

CBD advocates say the oil can help people with medical conditions like seizures, chronic pain, anxiety and sleep issues.

However, it does not give users the same “high” feeling commonly associated with smoking pot. But any change by the state might not matter.

In the fall Lapeer County residents will vote on a statewide ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana.

Meanwhile a five-member board, appointed by the governor, Senate majority leader and speaker of the House, is supposed to govern the issuance of medical marijuana licenses in the state.

The statewide ballot proposal on Nov. 6 would leave it up to LARA to handle the licensing of marijuana businesses. The department does the processing and background checks for medical marijuana businesses, but it’s up to the politically appointed board to award those licenses.

Considering the huge backlog of medical marijuana license applications LARA has to weed through you would think they would meet more than once a month. State officials had to see this license application review crunch coming. Yet they’ve had only had five meetings this year, and in that time given no licenses yet. This is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable.

The next scheduled meeting of the licensing board is tomorrow (July 12). Maybe the six businessmen approved for licenses in Lapeer will get the nod they need to move forward, but don’t hold your breath.

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