Medical marijuana dispensaries ruled illegal in Michigan
SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- Advocates say Michigan's medical marijuana users just saw easy access to their medication go up in smoke.
In a four-to-one decision, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Friday that medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal.
The Michigan Attorney General sees it as a victory and is telling county prosecutors they can move to shut down dispensaries.
Chuck Crawford calls it a travesty.
"Basically what they're doing is tying the hands of the patients and caregivers," he said.
Crawford runs Project Safer, a certified center in Sparta that helps patients get their medical marijuana licenses.
"Once a week our doctor comes in and we see patients back here," he said, motioning to the back room.
Then patients get help finding caregivers.
Medical marijuana patients have two options -- find a licensed caregiver, or grow their own pot.
Crawford says there are already too few caregivers to treat patients in West Michigan.
"Everyday we get calls. People wondering if we have marijuana for sale, if we are a dispensary," he said.
Crawford says many of the state's 126,000 registered users cannot grow their own marijuana. Crawford sees nothing but trouble ahead.
"Somebody has to break the law because there isn't enough caregivers," he said.
Attorney and Cooley Law School Professor Devin Schindler says there was already law-breaking going on.
"That's how the Supreme Court saw it," he said.
There is the case of a Mt. Pleasant shop where the owners profited after medical marijuana users sold pot to each other.
"What a lot of these dispensaries were doing essentially was allowing people to rent out lockers," Schindler said.
If patients had a medical marijuana license and grew too much, Schindler says they put the extra pot into lockers. Other patients would then come in and purchase it.
"And then they would charge a fee for it. Well the statute simply doesn't provide for that."
Crawford hopes lawmakers find a way to to give patients who need the drug a legal avenue to get it.
Crawford says he had hoped to open a dispensary in Algoma Township, where leaders were supportive of his plans. He says leaders waited for the Supreme Court ruling so they would not face a lawsuit. Crawford decided to give up waiting and moved to Sparta to open Project Safer.