A Michigan Supreme Court ruling could result in the closure of the state’s approximately 100 medical marijuanadispensaries.
The high court ruled in February that while the sale of medical marijuana is allowed under state law, it cannot happen in a business that facilitates patient-to-patient pot sales.
The 4-1 decision affirmed a Court of Appeals ruling that a Mount Pleasant dispensary, Compassionate Apothecary, could be shut down as a public nuisance.
The case is State of Michigan v. Brandon McQueen and Matthew Taylor, d/b/a Compassionate Apothecary, LLC.
In a news release, Attorney General Bill Schuette praised the ruling and said it virtually prohibits all retail marijuana sales.
Under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA), people who have a medical marijuana card can either purchase medical marijuana from state-registered caregivers or grow the plants themselves. The law does not provide for pot distribution clubs or member-based groups. But in 2009, marijuana dispensaries began opening throughout the state.
Individuals and businesses that violate the state’s marijuana laws can face criminal prosecution.
Attorney General Schuetteis sending letters to 83 Michigan prosecutors telling them how to file public nuisance complaints to shut down dispensaries in their counties.
In the Compassionate Apothecary decision, the Supreme Court said:
- The MMMA does not legalize marijuana.
- The MMMA does not permit marijuana dispensaries.
- The MMMA prohibits unrestricted retail sales of marijuana.
- The “medical use” of marijuana under the MMMA limits marijuana transfers or sales to a registered caregiver and that caregiver’s five registered qualifying patients, as connected through the state’s medical marijuana registry.
- The MMMA does not offer immunity to a registered qualifying patient who sells or transfers marijuana to another registered qualifying patient.
- The MMMA does not offer immunity to a registered primary caregiver who sells or transfers marijuana to anyone other than a registered qualifying patient to whom the caregiver is connected through the State’s medical marijuana registry.
“Michigan’s highest court clarified that this law is narrowly focused to help the seriously ill, not an open door to unrestricted retail marijuana sales,” said Schuette in the press statement. “Dispensaries will have to close their doors. Sales or transfers between patients or between caregivers and patients other than their own are not permitted under the Medical Marijuana Act.”
As of January 2013, there were 126,739 registered medical marijuana patients, according to state figures.
Patients are allowed to use medical marijuana for ailments and side effects of diseases like cancer, HIV, AIDS and glaucoma.
- The South End http://thesouthend.wayne.edu/article/2013/02/michigan-medical-marijuanas-hazy-future
- Michigan Attorney General http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-164-46849_47203-294663–,00.html