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News (Media Awareness Project) - US MI: Edu: Court Ruling Continues To Conflict With City
Title:US MI: Edu: Court Ruling Continues To Conflict With City
Published On:2012-02-01
Source:State News, The (MI State U, MI Edu)
Fetched On:2012-02-04 06:00:45

After a court decision to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in
Michigan last fall, those involved with medical marijuana, city
officials and others continue to wonder what's next.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled commercial marijuana sales illegal
Aug. 24, 2011, rendering the practice of dispensaries in Michigan
unlawful. Medical marijuana still is legal in the state, but patients
are required to get medical marijuana directly from their caregivers
or grow it themselves because of the ruling.

No dispensaries ever were established in East Lansing -- only one
application for a medical marijuana dispensary was received before the
ruling, and it was denied by both the East Lansing Planning Commission
and the East Lansing City Council.

Lansing, however, was affected more by the change.

About 40 to 50 dispensaries were operating within Lansing city limits
at the time of the court ruling, and more applications for dispensary
locations were being processed, Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope said.

After the decision, the city sent dispensary owners a letter bringing
the ruling to their attention and advised them to shut down the
businesses or change business practice to fit the legal mold, Swope
said. He said he has heard a few dispensaries in the area managed to
stay afloat by changing their business model, but the vast majority of
dispensaries in Lansing closed in the wake of the ruling.

Because the business was specialized to a specific audience, the
overall economy of Lansing wasn't affected, Swope said, but on a
smaller scale, those involved likely saw some major

"I'm sure there was an impact on some patients that were willing to
access marijuana through dispensaries," he said. "I'm sure there were
some landlords that were counting on rent that weren't getting rent
and things like that."

French sophomore Kristen Ingram said her mother, who was diagnosed
with cancer, used medical marijuana to help alleviate the pain.
Although the medication helped her mother greatly, Ingram said she
thinks marijuana would be best dispensed in a medical setting -- not
through commercial operations.

"The idea of a store seems kind of sketch," Ingram

James Wortz, an employee at home growing supply store Pro-Hydroglo,
3026 E. Michigan Ave., in Lansing, said business slightly increased
after dispensaries were made illegal because more people had to grow
their own medical marijuana.

"It either stayed the same or increased slightly because more people
are growing for themselves," Wortz said.

In a location where almost 70 percent of residents voted to legalize
medical marijuana practices, the ruling denying dispensaries was
contradictory to their interests, said Randy Hannan, spokesman for
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.

But Lansing attorney Matthew Newburg said he advised some dispensaries
in the area to close their doors.

If former dispensaries choose to remain open, Newburg said they still
might be more prone to raids and other law enforcement investigations
even if they currently are not selling marijuana.

"To remain open and to have a storefront, ... that does not look good
or bode well," Newburg said.

Ken Van Every, former co-owner of Compassionate Apothecaries, said he
washed his hands of the medical marijuana trade in August 2011 after
last year's court decision.

Although it was disappointing for Van Every to close his business'
doors, he said it was necessary to obey the law.

"It's unfortunate for the patients, but at the same time you've got to
obey the laws," Van Every said.
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