The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that medical marijuana dispensaries are not legal under the state’s 2008 medical marijuana law.
Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. and justices Stephen J. Markman, Mary Beth Kelly and Brian Zahra upheld the opinion of the Michigan Court of Appeals, which ruled on the case after then-prosecutor Larry Burdick filed an appeal following Isabella County Trial Judge Paul Chamberlain’s ruling that the dispensary, which facilitated patient-to-patient sales, was legal.
The justice’s opinion explained that collectives are not included in the law, “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.”
Caregivers are still protected from prosecution, as long as they only provide marijuana to a qualifying patient who they are connected with via the state’s registration process.
Justice Cavanagh submitted a dissenting opinion, stating “The majority’s view is inconsistent with the purpose of the MMMA—to promote the “health and welfare of [Michigan] citizens”—because qualified patients who are in need of marijuana for medical use, yet do not have the ability to either cultivate marijuana or find a trustworthy primary caregiver, are, for all practical purposes, deprived of an additional route to obtain marijuana for that use—another qualified patient’s transfer. MCL 333.26422(c).”
As a result of the ruling, Michigan Attorney Bill Schuette has now announced that he is telling county prosecutors to force the closure of all dispensaries in the state. He said, “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.”
Schuette continued to explain that, based on the ruling, he would “send a letter to Michigan’s 83 county prosecutors explaining that the ruling clearly empowers them to close dispensaries and include instructions on how to file similar nuisance actions to close dispensaries in their own counties.”