The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that an Isabella County business was operating outside the parameters of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) when it allowed registered qualifying patients and primary caregivers to purchase medical marijuana, a ruling that effectively upheld provisions of the law barring so-called dispensaries from operating in the state of Michigan.
The unanimous ruling, published on Tuesday, Aug. 23, determined that the MMMA — which was the result of a voter-approved ballot measure in 2008 that allowed the use of medical marijuana for qualifying patients — does not provide legal grounds for Compassionate Apothecary to allow patient-to-patient sales of medical marijuana, and that “no other provision of the MMMA can be read to permit such sales.”
Compassionate Apothecary, which has locations in Mount Pleasant and Traverse City, allowed registered qualifying patients or their primary caregivers to purchase medical marijuana that other Compassionate Apothecary members had stored in lockers rented from the business. The operation provided the mechanism for the sale of medical marijuana and the retention of at least 20 percent of the drug’s sale price, the court wrote in its 17-page opinion.
The court’s ruling came after Isabella County prosecutors filed a complaint against the defendants, Brandon McQueen and Matthew Taylor, claiming that because Compassionate Apothecary was not operating within the scope of the MMMA, it was therefore a public nuisance since it violated the state’s public health code. A two-day hearing in a trial court took place, with that court ruling that Compassionate Apothecary — which had approximately 345 members — was operating within the appropriate scope of the MMMA.
McQueen, the ruling states, is a qualifying patient who has been issued a registry identification card and is also the registered primary caregiver for three medical marijuana patients. Taylor, the ruling states of the “generally undisputed” facts of the case, is not a qualifying patient but only a registered primary caregiver for two qualifying patients.
“Together, McQueen and Taylor operate CA (Compassionate Apothecary), which can be described as a medical marijuana dispensary. The goal of CA is to provide an uninteruppted supply of marijuana to registered qualifying patients. It does this by ‘facilitating patient-to-patient transfers of marijuana between it’s members,” the Court of Appeals’ ruling reads.
State Sen. Mike Kowall (R-Commerce, Highland, Milford, Walled Lake, Wixom, Wolverine Lake, White Lake, Orchard Lake, West Bloomfield) said he believes the ruling will help communities grappling with issues related to medical marijuana.
“I think it’s going to help communities in that those clinics that are set up, it’s going to be a little more clear,” he said. “That will, in turn, give better guidance for people thinking of opening these things and a little more guidance for communities, as well.”
Commerce Township Supervisor Tom Zoner said that he isn’t sure how, if at all, the ruling will help local units of government regarding medical marijuana matters.
“I’m going to have to wait for our attorneys” to review the opinion.
Marcia McBrien, public information officer for the State Court Administrative Office, which oversees the state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, declined comment on the ruling.
A request for comment from the Marijuana Policy Project went unreturned before press time on Monday, Aug. 29.