The troubled saga of Michigan's medical marijuana market continues, as patients fear the closing of dispensaries that don't meet testing regulations - which would make it more difficult to get their medication.
Lawmakers in Michigan recently passed a law that could see a number of the state's medical marijuana dispensaries closed. Any businesses who are not in compliance with the state's medical marijuana safety testing regulations will be forced to close come June 1.
For many patients this will mean they will no longer have access to medications they desperately need, said Linda Rodriguez, who uses medical marijuana to treat complications associated with her breast cancer.
"Oh my god, it would hurt me so bad," Rodriguez told Fox2. "I need this for pain."
Patients like Rodriguez have begun pushing back on the government's plan. On Wednesday, patients and business owners held a protest calling for state officials to give medical marijuana dispensaries until the end of the year to become compliant with state testing regulations.
However, some experts aren't so sure that simply giving businesses more time to become compliant would actually fix anything. As cannabis attorney Michelle Donovan says, there just aren't enough testing facilities in the state to handle the growing demand for their services.
"There are only four licensed testing facilities in the state of Michigan and if we were to allow testing, there would be a bottleneck until the end of the year," she said.
Michigan's move to close dispensaries selling untested medical marijuana comes as the latest in a string of controversial plays made by the state. In 2016, Michigan lawmakers passed a bill forcing all cannabis dispensaries to re-apply for their license to operate. Since then, the state's marijuana board has re-licensed only a very small number of dispensaries, initiating a massive shortage of medical marijuana.
Unlicensed dispensaries were than allowed to re-open temporarily to help ease the supply shortage. The state's new bill appears to be intended to force these unlicensed dispensaries into compliance with state regulations.
However, without the proper framework in place to help dispensaries actually meet compliance standards, the state will simply be crippling its medical marijuana market once again.