Michigan Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Look to State Supreme Court for Help

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The medical marijuana industry in Michigan has had a rough go of it over the past year, with scores of dispensaries closing shop under intense pressure from local and state officials.

Blame it on a controversial appeals court ruling that determined the state’s MMJ law doesn’t specifically permit the sale of medical cannabis at storefront dispensaries (or anywhere else, for that matter). In other words, the court said dispensaries are illegal.

But that wasn’t the final word on MMJ in Michigan.

This week, the Michigan Supreme Court began examining the issue, hearing oral arguments on Thursday tied to the appeals court’s decision.

The state’s beleaguered medical marijuana industry is hoping the court will overturn the previous ruling, which would breathe life back into the MMJ business in Michigan. If the Supreme Court upholds the ruling, however, Michigan’s remaining dispensaries could be forced to close down.

Now that the ball is rolling, a decision on the matter could come by the end of the year or even earlier.

The court will essentially decide whether dispensaries can exist despite the fact that the state’s medical marijuana law is extremely vague when it comes to how the drug is to be distributed. Medical marijuana advocates argue that dispensaries should be allowed because a) most patients have no other way to get cannabis because the rules are so vague and b) the MMJ law doesn’t specifically ban them.

The law allows individual caregivers to grow a limited number of plants for a handful of patients. But finding a caregiver can be difficult, and many patients don’t have the time, skills or resources to grow their own.

State lawmakers are also trying to clear up confusion over Michigan’s medical cannabis program and are considering new regulations.