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Michigan Dispensaries Ruled Illegal

Posted by Jason Draizin on 08/26/2011 in Medical Marijuana



In a frustrating decision, a Michigan Appeals Court ruled medical marijuana dispensaries illegal Wednesday. They even added insult to injury, declaring that they could reasonably be considered a "public nuisance." This is contrary to what the lower court ruled, which determined dispensaries were compliant with the law.

Michigan's medical marijuana law prohibits sales of medical marijuana, which led the state to confront dispensaries. The 2008 law "allows for 'delivery and transfer' of marijuana, but not the 'sale' of marijuana."

Medical marijuana dispensaries are a logical solution to the supply problem. Growers are generally preoccupied with tending to their plants, leaving them little time to trade small portions of their crop all day.

There are nearly 100,000 medical marijuana patients, and 38,000 caregivers registered in Michigan. There are over 300 dispensaries who help supply the growing market with their prescriptions.

Rick Thompson, a spokesman for the Association of Michigan Compassion Centers, pointed out the glaring complications.

"This is a bad thing for Michigan. Not only will patients now be denied an opportunity for safe access, they are going to reduce the number of people enrolling in the program, and that program gave us $8 million profit in two years. Why would any (court) want to gut a profitable program in the state of Michigan?"

It's a standard partisan affair. The appeals court is largely conservative, and the future is grim. The next step involves appealing to the Michigan Supreme Court, which has a strong conservative majority.

Brandon McQueen, a dispensary owner from Mount Pleasant, is determined to fight the good fight till the bitter end. He has promised to take the case to the Michigan Supreme Court. McQueen commented, "It's the worst thing for patients. It's going to create crime and all the economic activity this industry has caused has a chance of collapsing."

It is reported that many dispensaries have shut down since the ruling, likely cutting their losses in lieu of expected failure.

Matthew Abel is an attorney, and an expert in cannabis law. He was unsurprised by the decision. He is also disappointed in the ruling, concerned that patients will bear the biggest burden.

"The patients are not going to go back to the back alleys and buy this off the street, and they shouldn't have to. Eventually the Legislature is going to become educated as to the realities and they are going to begin to license, regulate and perhaps tax (the cannabis industry). The sooner that happens, the less resources will be spent on fighting this and the sooner the citizens of Michigan will benefit."