Michigan courts: Medical pot dispensaries banned, but sharing is cool

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, February 8, 2013 13:38 EDT
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A close-up shot of finely cultivated marijuana. Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.
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The Michigan Supreme Court issued a ruling Friday that slammed the door shut on entrepreneurs who want to open medical marijuana dispensaries, according to The Associated Press.

The Michigan Medical Marihuana Program (MMMP) currently only allows patients to buy the drug from registered caregivers, of which there are nearly 26,000 in the state. They supply marijuana to about 126,000 people, according to the program’s application database, and individuals are allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of prepared marijuana, or 12 plants.

While that’s not going to change, the court’s 4-1 ruling Friday means that individuals who are properly registered as patients must purchase marijuana from a licensed caregiver or grow their own, and cannot sell it to anyone else, even another licensed patient. And there’s definitely no room for any storefront marijuana sales in the current law, the court ruled.

The case arose after a dispensary called Compassionate Apothecary was shut down by Isabella County for setting up a profit-making venture that let licensed patients sell leftover marijuana to one another, saying that activity was legal because the law allows “delivery” and “transfer” of medical marijuana. The Michigan Supreme Court disagreed, siding with a lower court’s ruling (PDF) in banning the sales.

The court’s opinion was issued in State of Michigan V Brandon McQueen. It had not been published on the court’s website at time of this story’s publication.

The news is not all bad for medical marijuana adherents, considering a Michigan court of appeals ruled at the end of January (PDF) that sharing, as opposed to sales, is in fact permitted.

That case arose after a medical marijuana patient named Tony Green gave some of his supply to another registered patient and got arrested for it. He dodged the charge on appeal by a technicality: even though Green was not a primary caregiver, the court ruled that the law is not specific as to who is permitted to deliver or transfer marijuana.

Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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