A Michigan federal judge has temporarily halted a legal battle involving two cannabis retailers, the City of Menominee, and other competing businesses, indicating a preference for the resolution of related state-level disputes over city licenses for recreational marijuana sales. This pause aims to potentially eliminate the necessity for the federal lawsuit's continuation.
U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker, in a recent order, expressed a mutual agreement among all involved parties to delay the federal lawsuit, originally initiated on August 21st by First Property Holdings LLC (operating as Rize) and The Fire Station LLC. These companies had taken legal action against Menominee, a city in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and several competing businesses. Judge Jonker's decision to grant Menominee's request for a stay came after discussions with all parties involved.
The controversy stems from Menominee's initial decision to award only two licenses in 2021 for the sale of recreational marijuana within the city, which were granted to the plaintiffs of the federal suit. This decision led to lawsuits from other retailers who were not granted licenses, challenging the city's limit in state court. Following a settlement agreement from these challenges, Menominee lifted the cap on the number of available licenses.
The federal lawsuit by the original licensees alleges that five retailers who were initially unsuccessful in obtaining licenses attempted to influence the licensing process through unofficial means while the state litigation was pending. These retailers include Rocky North LLC, Highwire Farms LLC, Nu Group, Higher Love, and O.I. Holdings.
Judge Jonker expressed reservations about the federal court's jurisdiction over a matter that involves the licensing for sales of a substance still considered illegal under federal law. By delaying proceedings, there is hope that resolution in other related legal actions might reduce or eliminate the need to address certain legal questions in this case.
The judge has mandated that all parties involved provide a status update by April 30th, with subsequent reports every 90 days, detailing the progress of related proceedings in state court.
Representation for the plaintiffs includes attorneys from The Mike Cox Law Firm PLLC, Dickinson Wright PLLC, and John R. Turner PLC. The City of Menominee is represented by Plunkett Cooney PC, with the other businesses represented by a variety of legal firms.
This case highlights the complex legal landscape surrounding the issuance of licenses for the sale of recreational marijuana, reflecting broader challenges within the industry as it navigates both state and federal legal frameworks.
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