Holland Medical marijuana dispensary owners await local decisions

Prosecutors are letting local law-enforcement agencies determine if medical marijuana dispensaries are violating a recent appeals court ruling. Allegan and Ottawa prosecuting attorneys have sent letters to police agencies advising them of the ruling from the Michigan appeals court in late August that said the 2008 medical marijuana law, and the state’s public health code, does not allow people to sell medical marijuana to one other, even if they are among the 99,500 who have state-issued marijuana cards.

The Allegan County prosecutor last week sent a letter and a copy of the court ruling to law enforcement agencies to guide them in their decisions. If police believe a dispensary is violating the law, officers have been instructed to give a copy of the letter and court case to the operators, said Prosecutor Fred Anderson. “It gives them an opportunity to desist,” he said.

The policy will be decided on a case-by-case basis, not a broadbrush approach, Anderson said. The prosecutor’s office has not received any medical marijuana dispensary cases as of Tuesday afternoon, he added. Ottawa County sent letters to dispensaries in the Holland area with a copy of the court case, advising the operators to consult with their attorneys if there were questions, said Prosecutor Ronald Frantz. After the August ruling, the Good Intentions Paving Co., a medical marijuana dispensary at 3219 Blue Star Highway, closed, but reopened days later.

“You cannot leave a patient hanging,” said owner Tammy Jacobi, a nurse who opened the facility earlier this year. “I’m trying to make sure the right things are being done for the patients and the community.” John Targowski, Jacobi’s attorney, said Good Intentions is not operating the same way as the facility in the court case. Compassionate Apothecary, known as CA, in Mount Pleasant, was operating on a patient-to-patient transfer of medical marijuana. Jacobi, a registered caregiver, is transferring the drug to patients, Targowski said. The court of appeals did not rule on that arrangement, he said.

“She is in uncharted territory,” Targowski said. The future of Jacobi’s operation, as well as The Great Turtle Emporium, 3383 Blue Star Highway, owned by Larry Darling, could be determined tonight when the Saugatuck Township board considers whether or not to adopt an ordinance that allows medical marijuana to be distributed from homes, not from traditional storefronts in commercial areas as Jacobi’s and Darling’s operations do. If the new rules pass, the fate of the two dispensaries is unclear.

The township board meets at 6 p.m. at the township hall, 3461 Blue Star Highway. On June 1, the township put a three-month moratorium on new medical marijuana facilities and asked the planning commission to draw up an ordinance covering use. The proposed zoning rules limit one registered caregiver to a home that must be more than 1,000 feet away from a school, library, family day care home or group day care home. It also allows a caregiver to operate in an attached garage or detached accessory building.

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