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Michigan senators push new legislation to protect medical marijuana dispensaries

State licensing board threatens dispensaries operating beyond Dec. 15

DETROIT – Ever since 2008, when Michigan voters approved the use of medical marijuana, pot shops have been popping up everywhere. 

That's especially true in Detroit along the 8 Mile Road and Gratiot Avenue business corridors.

However, the state of Michigan stepped in last year with new legislation ruling the shops have to have a license and applications for such licenses would not be accepted until Dec. 15, 2017. The state licensing board (LARA) recently announced dispensaries operating past that date will face an "impediment" to getting licensed. 

Attorneys, however, don't believe LARA can do that. 

"The licensing board is there to license new commercial facilities. They are not there as a law enforcement agency to determine who is and who is not committing crimes," said attorney Jeff Schroeder, of Plunkett Cooney law. 

There has been an outcry by patients and their advocates concerned about what will happen if the dispensaries are forced to closed. 

"Patients that I'm hearing from today are very worried about where they're going to get their medicine," said Robin Schneider of the National Patients Rights Association. 

That's what Wednesday's announcement is about. Two Democratic senators -- Sen. David Knezek of Dearborn Heights and Sen. Yousef Rabhi of Ann Arbor -- are announcing legislation which would allow dispensaries to stay open while they await licensing approval. 

"In light of the recent announcement by LARA's Medical Marihuana Licensing Board that businesses operating past December 15 will face an 'impediment' to licensure, this legislation is intended to protect business investment, jobs, and patients' access to medical marijuana," reads a news release from the senators. 

They will speak Wednesday morning at the state Capitol. 

READ BACK: Michigan state board tables proposal to close all medical marijuana dispensaries

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