Thursday, June 30, 2011
Marijuana Cooperatives illegal in MI
Attorney general issues opinion saying medical marijuana cooperatives
are illegal in Michigan
Posted: Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 4:38 p.m.
By Ryan J. Stanton
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a formal opinion today,
declaring there are only two legal ways patients can get access to
medical marijuana in the state.
They can either grow it for themselves — 12 plants at a time — or they
can get it from a registered caregiver who can grow 12 plants for each
of as many as five patients.
But not allowed under the state's medical marijuana law, Schuette
said, are cooperatives where patients and caregivers jointly
cultivate, store and share medical marijuana.
Schuette's opinion also noticeably leaves out patient-to-patient
transfers of marijuana, which is the business model many dispensaries
follow, as an acceptable practice. Schuette has said publicly he
believes the law approved by voters in 2008 did not authorize
Ann Arbor officials are looking into what the opinion might mean for
marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities that exist locally,
but City Attorney Stephen Postema noted the attorney general's stance
ultimately could be trumped by pending court decisions.
"I knew something like this was coming out, so we'll be looking at
this," Postema said via phone today, adding the city still expects a
major decision to come down from the Michigan Court of Appeals ruling
on the legality of patient-to-patient transfers.
The Ann Arbor City Council adopted local medical marijuana regulations
last week that allow up to 72 plants to be grown in a single location,
but there is language in the ordinance saying it must be done in
compliance with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.
Schuette clarified in his opinion today there are strict rules around
how caregivers and patients can grow and access medical marijuana. He
said the law contemplated that permitted activities, including the
cultivation of marijuana plants, would occur on an individual basis.
Patients who wish to be self-sufficient, Schuette said, can grow up to
12 plants for their own personal medical use in an "enclosed, locked
facility" that only they can access.
If patients specify a caregiver, Schuette said, they relinquish any
right to possess and cultivate marijuana plants on their own — they
must rely on the caregiver.
And caregivers must keep each patient's plants segregated and in a
separate enclosed, locked facility that only they can access, Schuette
said. That's defined as "a closet, room, or other enclosed area
equipped with locks or other security devices that permit access only
by a registered primary caregiver or registered qualifying patient."
Schuette said questions concerning commercial enterprises that sell
medical marijuana — and whether government officials can conduct
warrantless administrative searches of registered patients or
caregivers and their properties — are under review by his office.
He noted in his opinion that marijuana remains a Schedule 1 controlled
substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and has no
accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. He also said
the manufacture and delivery of marijuana by anyone remains a felony
and the voter-approved medical marijuana law merely "sets forth
particular circumstances under which they will not be arrested or
otherwise prosecuted for their lawbreaking."
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach
him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow
him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's e-mail newsletters.