Marijuana and Cannabis News

Michigan supreme court rules dispensaries violate state law
By William Breathes in Legislation, Medical, News
Monday, February 11, 2013 at 8:30 am

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Michigan medical marijuana patients have to grow their own or get it from someone else. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled this week against Compassionate Apothecary in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, deciding that medical marijuana dispensaries are not legal under state laws.

Michigan residents legalized medical marijuana use in 2008 allowing patients to possess up to two and a half ounces and grow up to 12 plants in an enclosed space. The law makes no mention of dispensaries, but since that time they have been liberally interpreted to allow for medical marijuana dispensaries. Dispensary owners argued that their businesses were made legal thanks to language that allows for the delivery and transfer of marijuana.

One of the major factors, the judges ruled, was that the dispensaries make profits from cannabis sales. Editor's note: (with average dispensary ounce prices hovering at $400, that doesn't sound too far off). Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette specifically targeted the shops for the unrestricted marijuana sales.

"Because the MMMA's immunity provision clearly contemplates that a registered qualifying patient's medical use of marijuana only occur for the purpose of alleviating his own debilitating medical condition or symptoms associated with his debilitating medical condition, and not another patient's condition or symptoms,"

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Michigan Rep. Jeff Irwin.
The clarification now means that caregivers can provide marijuana for up to five patients, with a total of 12 plants grown at any one time. Critics (like us here at Toke of the Town) point out that limiting choices of safe places for sick patients to get their meds doesn't make much sense. We certainly advocate everyone who wants to learn to grow cannabis do so, but not everyone has that choice. Nor does everyone know someone capable of growing medical-quality cannabis. Other states, notably Colorado, have seen success with dispensaries (not to mention our governments don't mind the extra tax revenue either). There are currently more than 124,000 medical marijuana patients in Michigan and around 26,000 registered caregivers signed up through the state.

The Michigan attorney general has already ordered county attorneys to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries.

Almost in spite of the ruling, State Rep. Jeff Irwin, a democrat from Ann Arbor, announced on Friday that he is working on legislation to decriminalize marijuana in the Great Lakes State. "There is far more interest than most people realize," he told Mlive.com last week. "Trying to lock folks up, spending 100's of millions of dollars in courts and police, misappropriating our public safety investment against more violent crimes, all these issues are driving the public towards a more reasonable and responsible set of laws around marijuana and that's what I would favor."

Irwin also told AnnArbor.com that he questions whether or not the ruling actually outlaws dispensaries completely. ""It bans patient-to-patient transfers," he said. "The ruling does not say dispensaries are illegal, nor does it say there's no model by which a dispensary could be created to provide services to patients."

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