Supreme Court ruling will likely close down all Michigan medical marijuana dispensaries

A new Supreme Court ruling will likely close all medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.

In a 4-1 ruling released Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court found marijuana dispensaries can be shut down under Michigan’s public nuisance law. The court also ruled that medical marijuana cannot be sold patient-to-patient but can be sold caregiver-to-patient.

The ruling stems from a case involving a Mount Pleasant dispensary, Compassionate Apothecary, that allowed medical marijuana users to sell to each other. Owners took as much as a 20-percent cut of each sale.

In August 2011, Isabella County’s former prosecuting attorney Larry Burdick said Compassionate Apothecary was a public nuisance and violated the public health code.

“The voters in 2008 approved a law carving out a narrow exception to allow for the compassionate use of marijuana for some individuals suffering from serious illnesses. The law approved by the voters did not sanction businesses selling marijuana,” Burdick said in a news release.

Isabella County authorities later shut down Compassionate Apothecary as a public nuisance, Central Michigan Life previously reported.

The ruling upheld a 2011 state Court of Appeals ruling that all sales and transfers of medical marijuana beyond registered caregivers and their connected five patients will now violate the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.

The court ruled the MMMA does not legalize marijuana, does not permit marijuana dispensaries and prohibits unrestricted retail sales of marijuana.

The ruling also limits registered caregiver marijuana transfers to five registered qualifying patients, does not offer immunity to a registered qualifying patient who sells to another registered qualifying patient and does not offer immunity to a registered primary caregiver who sells or transfers marijuana to anyone he or she is not connected to through the state’s Medical Marijuana Registry.

With the closing of businesses, the ruling means the state’s 124,417 active registered qualifying patients must grow their own marijuana or have one of the 25,957 state-licensed caregivers grow it for them.

Michigan voters approved the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program on Nov. 4, 2008, making Michigan the 13th state to legalize marijuana use.

Enforcement since the appeals’ court decision has depended on the attitudes of local police and sheriff’s offices.

Michigan made $9.9 million in medical marijuana application and renewal fees in 2012, which is nearly $6.3 million more than the $3.6 million it spent on the program, MLive reported.


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