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Michigan Medical Marijuana Act - Legal Update

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Ronald D. Richards Jr.
Foster Swift Municipal Law News
July 2011

Another month, another slew of activity on the medical marijuana front across Michigan. This article highlights two recent events from the Michigan Attorney General’s office.

Attorney General Sides with Municipalities: Says Municipalities May Bar Dispensaries

First, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, joined by Representative John Walsh (R-Livonia), Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) and Berrien County Prosecutor Art Cotter, announced his efforts to address public safety problems associated with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. Specifically, Attorney General Schuette decided to file a brief in Lott v City of Birmingham that is pending in Wayne County Circuit Court, where the ACLU has sued to challenge municipalities’ decisions prohibiting medical marijuana use and dispensaries. The Attorney General’s brief argues that the City of Livonia has the right to ban dispensaries – because the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act violates federal law and that municipalities should not be forced to allow activity that violates federal law.

Attorney General States That Collective Marijuana Farms Are Illegal

Second, Attorney General Schuette issued his first formal Attorney General opinion addressing the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. (Attorney General Opinion No. 7259). Two State Senators asked the Attorney General if the Act allows patients and primary caregivers to form cooperatives to jointly grow, store, and share marijuana – or if the marijuana must be separately grown for and provided to a specific patient. The Attorney General stated that the Act does not permit the collective growing or sharing of marijuana plants on cooperative marijuana farms. He stated that the Act requires each patient’s plants to be grown and maintained in a separate enclosed, locked facility that is only accessible to the registered patient or the patient’s registered primary caregiver. Cooperative marijuana farms do not fulfill those requirements, he commented.

Attorney General opinions are not binding in courts, but courts can find them persuasive. Note that the State Senators also asked the Attorney General two additional questions about operating commercial enterprises to sell or transfer medical marijuana, and if the government may conduct warrantless administrative searches of the persons or property of registered patients or primary caregivers. These questions are still under review by the Attorney General’s office.

Did you miss the Foster Swift Michigan Medical Marijuana Act webinar in May?

Don’t worry! You can still view a recording. Just click here.