Proposal Would Pave Way for Michigan Marijuana Dispensaries in MMJ-Friendly Cities

Perhaps there’s some hope for the medical cannabis industry in Michigan after all.

A Republican state lawmaker is introducing a bill today that would allow individual cities to decide if medical marijuana dispensaries can operate within their boundaries. Under the bill, municipalities could also set up regulations covering the location of dispensaries and possibly institute other operational rules.

The proposal by Rep. Mike Callton comes just two weeks after the state Supreme Court essentially ruled that MMJ centers are illegal under Michigan’s medical marijuana laws, a devastating decision that could force all of the estimated 75-100 dispensaries currently operating to close.

What’s particularly encouraging about the latest bill is that it has an unusually high level of bipartisan support: Eight Democrats and eight Republicans are co-sponsoring the measure. That gives this proposal a much better chance at passage than a similar one that died in committee last year.

But that doesn’t mean the bill will sail through the legislature. The state attorney general is a vociferous opponent of dispensaries and plans to send out letters to all county prosecutors in Michigan instructing them to close dispensaries in light of the court ruling. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office also told the Detroit Free Press last week that they see no need for new legislation at this time.

At the very least, expect a vigorous debate on the issue.

So far, reports indicate that only a handful of dispensaries have closed their doors as a result of the Supreme Court ruling. Many are waiting to see how the state and local law enforcement officials respond.

There’s a chance that some cities will basically ignore the Supreme Court ruling and in effect look the other way while dispensaries continue to operate. But that situation can only exist for so long, and if the state does not modify its medical marijuana rules it’s probably only a matter of time before all dispensaries in Michigan close.