An Ypsilanti, Michigan, cannabis dispensary.
An Ypsilanti, Michigan, cannabis dispensary. smontgom65 / Getty Images
If you live in Michigan and are a medical cannabis cardholder, get thee to a dispensary today (Friday), as there are about to be some serious fire sales. But it's not being done for a good reason—the state is forcing 98 Michigan dispensaries to shut down.

While the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board can be an agency that, um, fosters challenging opportunities for license holders, they shine compared to LARA, AKA Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, and their Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation (BMMR).

On Tuesday, LARA put out some new emergency rules, which—like all things with the word "emergency" in them—probably isn't a great start. About 700 applicants had filed paperwork to become licensed Medical Marijuana Dispensary (MMJD), which comes with all sorts of rules, taxes, and expenses. There was a "step one" deadline of February 15 to submit an initial application, obtain permission from the neighborhoods in which they are operating, and then file the second round of paperwork by June 15.

Not everyone who filed the first round in February followed up with filing the next step by June 15—they were late, or perhaps did not file at all. That didn't sit well with LARA, so they told 98 of these dispensaries that they have until this Friday to sell off their entire inventory, and shut down.

They told them this on Tuesday.

There are no exceptions: All 98 dispensaries were given 72 hours to liquidate everything, then shut down. They may then continue their license application process, starting with the paperwork they all seriously wish they had filed on June 15.

Michigan cannabis attorney Denise Pollicella told Leafly: “No one could have seen back in June that a filing of Step 2 on June 16 rather than June 15 would require you to divest yourself of all your medical marijuana product in the next 72 hours, or risk becoming a felon. What we’re asking the state is to [allow us to] keep the inventory and not operate. We would sign an affidavit, hire a security guard on site,” added Policella. “But [LARA and the BMMR] are saying no, we can’t. They’re making clients divest hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of marijuana in 72 hours. Now multiply that by over 90 dispensaries across the state."

This results in job losses—with a conservative estimate of each dispensary having a staff of five, that's nearly 500 people losing their jobs, not to mention the soon-to-be vacant storefronts, ancillary service providers engaged by the dispensaries, and the lack of access for some patients to cannabis.

Thirty-seven applicants who did file paperwork by June 15 got some good news, sort of—they've been approved! Yay! Well, semi-yay. The Detroit Free Press reports that 21 were approved on Monday, and now have 10 days to come up with the mandatory "Regulatory Assessment fee" of $48,000. If they don't come up with the money by then, they must shut down 'til they do have the funds. It's actually a steal of a deal, because as of October 1, that fee jumps to $66,000.

$66,000 sounds like a totally reasonable fee to assess regulatory compliance, which the state distributes to five state agencies "which covers the cost to administer and enforce the medical marijuana market."

Meanwhile, tell your Michigan medical cardholder friends to go make some deals, because it's all gotta go.