Michigan Supreme Court rules against marijuana dispensaries

Updated: Friday, February 8 2013, 07:17 PM EST
Michigan Supreme Court rules against marijuana dispensaries  story image
MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – The Michigan Supreme Court now says that users of medical marijuana cannot buy it at pot shops.

Friday’s decision is the most significant court ruling since voters approved marijuana usage for medical usage in 2008.

Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette says he’s notifying county prosecutors they have the green light to shut down medical marijuana shops.

The Kent County Prosecutor’s office tells Newschannel 3 that most dispensaries shut down aft r the State Appeals Court said they were illegal in 2011, however some, like Cooperative Care, did not. However the sign in the window on Friday tells the story.

Cooperative Care closed up shop Friday after the court ruled that dispensaries violate the 2008 Medical Marijuana Act.

“They are the last arbiter of what Michigan law is and what Michigan law means,” said Tim McMorrow with the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office.

That means the state’s 126,000 approved patients must grow their own marijuana, or have a state-licensed caregiver grow it for them.

“Running this and making this sort of a boutique business, you can’t do that, that’s clear as a bell under the law,” said McMorrow.

Logan Hamlin runs the Michigan Caregiver Center in Grand Rapids. He worries that with dispensaries disappearing, patients will struggle to find quality care.

“For every one good caregiver, I’ve seen ten who either don’t make it, their patients leave them, or they’re just performing poor service and just getting by because the patient might not know better,” said Hamlin.

Hamlin foresees that patients who can’t grow their own or find someone else to do so for them, could take illegal steps to get their medication.

“A lot of these people have been using marijuana as medicine for years and years and years, and that was the only choice, grow it yourself or find someone on the street market,” said Hamlin, “and you’re going to go with what you know.”

Friday’s ruling involved a Mount Pleasant dispensary that allowed medical marijuana users to sell pot to each other. The owners took up to 20 percent from each sale and the dispensary was shut down as a public nuisance.

One Michigan lawmaker has stepped forward as opposing the court’s ruling to close dispensaries. Republican Representative Mike Calton of Nashville plans to quickly introduce a bill to legalize medical marijuana shops.

Calton says he’s concerned cancer patients and other users won’t have access to the drug without dispensaries.

A similar bill failed to progress in 2012, but Calton says the issue is now more urgent.

You can learn more about Friday's ruling by reading the opinion here, and the summary and briefs here. Michigan Supreme Court rules against marijuana dispensaries
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