The second meeting of the Licensing Board was full of unpleasant surprises
by Rick Thompson/August 22, 2017
EAST LANSING- Within ten minutes of the start of the second meeting of the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Board, former MSP Sergeant Don Bailey made a motion to close ALL medical marijuana dispensaries and associated businesses within two weeks.
It didn’t get much better from there.
The meeting was held in the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. 200+ attended. The meeting was live-streamed through the Internet, so there were an untold number of people who heard Don Bailey argue that shuttering all the dispensaries, testing labs, cultivation centers and processors already existing in the state was the “fair” thing to do.
“For those that are getting into the business or anticipate getting into the business, it’s a matter of fundamental fairness that everybody starts the race on the start line and nobody has a 40-yard advance,” Bailey said, and was quoted by Michigan Radio.
Bailey’s reference is to the businesses which will start the application process on December 15, 2017. He would like to see the state scrubbed clean of cannabusinesses so the new licensees can open up without any competition. His interest is in being fair to the new businesses, not the old citizens who compose this program.
Patient after patient paraded in front of the Board telling how they need the services provided by a dispensary to satisfy their medical need. How their caregiver lacks the skill or the materials to produce specialty medicines. The ill and injured detailed how their quality of life would be impacted by a closure of their dispensary, if there were no others to replace it.
This went on for hours.
When public comment was complete Bailey looked at the Chairman of the Board, former Speaker of the House and current Republican darling, Rick Johnson, and reminded him they were still going to vote on shutting down all the dispensaries in the state.
“I agree with Don, they all have to go,” Johnson said.
Both Bailey and Johnson expressed business-centric reasons for shuttering medical marijuana facilities.
“If we don’t do this today we’re going to do this somewhere in the future… because it needs to be done,” Johnson said, as reported by Michigan Radio.
Bailey added in, “I don’t think we should, in any respect, reward people for not following the law as it currently is. That is exactly what we would be doing (by letting dispensaries remain open),” he said during final Board comments. “The bottom line is, it is fundamentally unfair to those who… are not opening. They are doing it the right way, by not opening, and they should not be penalized.”
No vote was taken during the Board proceedings because, as Johnson put it, “You don’t have the votes, Don.” Of the four members of the Board, two seemed to refuse the notion that shuttering all dispensaries was wise.
“I need more information,” said David Lamontaine, a Board member.
At the onset of the meeting, Johnson named the next meeting date as October 12. By the end of the session the Board determined they needed to meet in September- although that meeting’s purpose seems to be for the Board to order the closure of all dispensaries and associated businesses in the state.
Which is a power they really don’t have, according to comments made by Director of the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation, Andrew Brisbo.
Brisbo delivered the first report to the Board after Bailey’s failed attempt at forcing passage of his ‘scorched earth’ policy. His subject was an update on the progress of the seed-to-sale tracking program and the use of the METRC computer system to track cannabis cultivation, transport and purchasing.
Before he addressed his subject Brisbo interjected a polite reminder to the Board that they did not have the power to make policy for LARA, or for the Bureau. The Board makes “recommendations,” Brisbo said, and that all decisions required approval by the BMMR and LARA.
That did not deter Bailey, who later said he didn’t care what anyone else thought, if dispensaries were open after a certain date he would vote NO on approving any applications made by those business owners for any businesses under the new MMFLA program.
Early on, Bailey tried to pass a motion to command LARA to census each and every community in the state, find out which ones have businesses which serve patients, require them to determine the ownership of that business, submit that data to LARA, have the Department make a master list and to give it to the Board so they would know who the bad actors are. He even tried to make them post the list of businesses and suspected owners on the Internet for all to see.
Assuming Director Brisbo is correct, and the Board cannot require or instruct anyone to do anything, the power and authority possessed by these two men is still very real. They were able to post six uniformed officers in the Kellogg Center for the entire meeting. Bailey has connections within the Michigan State Police and he was nominated for the Board position by the Speaker of the House, Rep. Tom Leonard. Johnson has powerful connections within the Republican Party and in the Michigan legislature; he was nominated for the Board position by the Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Meekhof.
Even if their bold demands for a clean sweeping of the state are largely impotent, a ‘scorched earth’ policy of eradication has been the fear of the Michigan patient community. Many in the audience at Monday’s meeting expressed a fear that the Board member’s words would inspire police agencies or local communities to change their policies and initiate action against the patient services industry without provocation or evidence of wrongdooing.
Although the event was streamed live, no link to the broadcast has been posted yet.