Lansing, MI: A 2008 citizens' initiative allowing for the physician authorized use of cannabis does not explicitly permit the establishment of brick-and-mortar facilities to dispense the product, according to a ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court.
In a 4-1 decision, the Court held that the law does not permit a registered qualifying patient to transfer marijuana to another registered qualifying patient. Therefore, the Court decided that businesses that provided services involving the patient-to-patient transfer of cannabis were not allowable under the present law.
By contrast, the Court did find that the sale of cannabis from a caregiver to a qualified patient did constitute 'medical use' under the law.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said that the Court's decision "empowers county prosecutors across the state to shut down remaining dispensaries that sell marijuana" as they now qualify as a "public nuisance." According to media reports, Schuette intends to direct prosecutors across the state "to file public nuisance charges against any remaining such dispensaries in Michigan."
At the time of the ruling, an estimated 75 to 100 dispensaries were believed to be operating in the state.
Sixty-three percent of Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 in 2008. The Act removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess written documentation from their physicians authorizing the medical use of marijuana.
In response to the decision, Rep. Mike Callton (R-Nashville) said that he intends to introduce legislation to legalize and regulate medical cannabis dispensaries.
The case is State v. Compassionate Apothecary, LLC.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.