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Muskegon Township, Greater Michigan Compassion Club Disagree on Medical-Marijuana Law

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What does Michigan's medical-marijuana law mean?

Beyond the fire-code and business-license issues, Muskegon Township and the Greater Michigan Compassion Club have a core dispute over what Michigan's medical-marijuana law allows, and what voters intended when they approved it in a 2008 ballot initiative.

Township's View

The township points to the law's provisions that a "registered caregiver" may "assist" no more than five qualifying patients with the medical use of marijuana.

For each patient, the caregiver is allowed to cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants, for a maximum of 60 plants per caregiver (or 72 if the caregiver is also a patient).

The law also allows a caregiver to be compensated "for costs associated with assisting a registered qualifying patient in the medical use of marijuana."

The township asserts that it's against the intent, if not the letter, of the law for a caregiver to sell marijuana for a profit, especially to anyone besides the five patients the caregiver is registered to assist.

The township's lawsuit calls it "laundering" of surplus marijuana for profit "into the illegal recreational market," with the buyers selling it for another profit.

The township alleges that the average $325-per-ounce price at the Greater Michigan Compassion Club bears no relation to the cost of cultivating the marijuana "but has an awful lot to do with the street price of recreational drugs," which is just enough higher that a member-patient "easily can turn a tidy profit" by reselling it, in the words of the lawsuit.

Marijuana Club's Interpretation

But the club maintains that it's legal for caregivers to sell what the club calls "surplus" marijuana to people besides their five patients, if 60 plants proves to be more than they need, as long as the buyer also holds a medical marijuana card.

Antol has pointed to club-imposed limitations on the amount and frequency of sales by members. He has said those limits – which have resulted in members being expelled for exceeding them – prove the club's intent isn't to feed the illegal market.

The township responds that those limits are ineffective at preventing marijuana from being resold illegally. The township claims that they merely keep the illegal sales "dispersed" enough to keep law enforcement attention from being drawn to them.

Not the First Such Lawsuit

The dispute over the meaning of the law, and voters' intent when they approved it, is not unique to Muskegon Township.

Broadly similar legal issues were raised in a lawsuit that Isabella County filed in July 2010, seeking to shut down a Mount Pleasant "apothecary" that, like the Greater Michigan Compassion Club, collected 20 percent fees from on-site marijuana sales by caregivers to cardholders other than their own five "patients."

In that case, a circuit judge ruled in favor of Compassionate Apothecary LLC, rejecting Isabella County's arguments. The county appealed it, and just this week the Michigan Court of Appeals heard arguments.

The Isabella County case didn't include the business-license and fire-code allegations that are the heart of Muskegon Township's case, however.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: mlive.com
Author: John S. Hausman
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Michigan Live LLC.
Website: Muskegon Township, Greater Michigan Compassion Club disagree on medical-marijuana law
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