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Lansing pot market withers on regulatory vine

State approves 12 dispensaries elsewhere; Wild Bill’s Tobacco applicant big loser


A dozen medical marijuana dispensaries this week were granted operating licenses by Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Licensing Board, but hiccups in the local regulatory system ensured none of them were in Lansing.

The board on Monday granted preliminary approval to nine medical marijuana-related business ventures around the state, including pre-qualification for a growing operation along Turner Road in Lansing under the name R&A Distributing LLC. But none of the 19 full-fledged dispensary licenses that have been awarded so far have been distributed within the state capital.

City Clerk Chris Swope has yet to grant local licensure to any of 27 remaining applicants who haven’t been denied in their bid to open a dispensary, records state. Those who were turned down will need to fit into the limited regulatory scheme should their appeals succeed, essentially freezing the market in the meantime, he said.

Oasis Wellness Center of Lansing — a company that was already locally approved for two growing operations and two processing facilities —was denied prequalification status on Monday by state officials for a range of business ventures across mid-Michigan, including plans for pot shops centered around Beech and Hazel streets in Lansing.

The state-registered agent behind Wild Bill’s Tobacco, Mazin Samona, was listed as a co-owner of those businesses, along with Paul Weisberger. The state board suggested two undisclosed arrests ultimately nixed their licensing bid. The would-be shops were also turned down based on a perception of poor “moral integrity.”

Calls to Samona and Weisberger at Wild Bill’s corporate offices were not immediately returned this week. It’s not clear why city officials didn’t deny the business on the same basis. Swope couldn’t be reached for clarification.

A total of 37 medical marijuana-related licenses have now been granted statewide and 73 different businesses have received the nod for prequalification. State officials also opted to provide some leniency to certain pools of applicants, extending a deadline that would have initially forced every unlicensed operation to close by Saturday.

Emergency rules governing the market — already twice extended by Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs — were again extended two months to Dec. 15. Applicants who have applied for operation on or before Feb. 15 and have submitted a license application by June 15 will be able to continue business.

Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation Director Andrew Brisbo said the latest round of approvals should quell concerns over a lack of marijuana availability for patients statewide. The decision to extend the deadline, instead, was based on ensuring businesses can operate while the regulatory system catches up, he said.

“I think there is availability, particularly based on the number of approvals we had. But more certainly couldn’t hurt,” Brisbo added. “We’ve heard a lot of concerns over the past month, and we want to make sure those concerns are heard and considered and that we’ve taken the appropriate action.”

Visit lansingcitypulse.com for more previous and continued coverage on medical marijuana regulation.



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