International Cannabis Business Conference

Michigan Court Bans Dispensaries

Michigan Medical Marijuana
Michigan patients protest the state’s shutdown of the medical-marijiuana industry

The Michigan Supreme Court has upheld an Appeals Court decision banning medical-marijuana dispensaries. There are currently as many as 100 pot shops in the state.

"This is the end of the road," says attorney Matt Abel of Cannabis Counsel, PLC. "It will be a mess until the legislature clarifies what kinds of business entities are allowed to exist."

The 4-1 ruling shuts down canna-business in Michigan. "Defendants are not entitled to operate a business that facilitates patient-to-patient sales of marijuana," the majority wrote.

As the law allows, patients can possess 2.5 ounces and grow up to 12 plants. It doesn't allow for sales or the operation of stores. Neither did Prop 215, which passed in California in 1996. It took separate legislation, Senate Bill 420, in 2003 to give the proposition more specific ground rules. NORML contends that SB 420 "grants implied legal protraction for the state's medicinal marijuana dispensaries."

In 2011, legislation gutted Montana's medical-marijuana industry. The 2004 initiative there also didn't include provisions for sales or dispensaries. An effort to add dispensary sales to Oregon's medical-marijuana law failed at the ballot in 2010. However, dispensaries have managed to proliferate in Oregon.

The current model is to write language into the law that specifies dispensaries (possibly a set number), giving the Health Department the responsibility to license store owners and cultivators (see New Mexico, New Jersey, Arizona, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington, DC). But this model has proven to be slow, bureaucratic and prone to political machinations

Is it time for states without medical marijuana laws to move instead in the dirtection of legalization for all uses - medical, recreational and industrial - like Colorado and Washington? Let us know what you think.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, editor-in-chief of Freedom Leaf, co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness, and the former editor of High Times.