Oakland prosecutor: Marijuana dispensaries clearly illegal

The Oakland County prosecutor says she wants to end confusion surrounding the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, telling county commissioners at a board meeting Thursday that dispensaries of any kind are illegal in the state.

“It’s black and white in the statute,” Prosecutor Jessica Cooper told The Detroit News. “We’re clarifying it in the courts and we’re winning in the courts. The judges understand it, but we’re losing in the public, because they keep thinking it’s legalized and ‘if I have a card, I can do anything I want.'”

The act, which passed in November 2008, has left dispensary operators and defense attorneys crying foul after narcotics enforcement officers began raiding cultivation operations in 2009. But Cooper said the law is very clear that only people with serious or debilitating illnesses, diagnosed by a Michigan-licensed doctor, are allowed to use the drug and only under certain conditions.

Each qualifying patient can have no more than one primary caregiver, who may maintain 12 or fewer plants or up to 2.5 ounces of harvested marijuana for no more than five designated patients.

Marijuana “pharmacies” are illegal in Michigan, Cooper said, since pharmacies and pharmacists must be licensed by the state, pharmacists must also obtain specialized education, and Schedule I substances, including marijuana, cannot be distributed at pharmacies under state and federal laws.

Still, Cooper acknowledged that there are issues with the law that need fixing, including the provision that allows parents to obtain patient cards for children 18 and under.

“Why are we spending millions and millions of dollars and thousands and thousands of hours trying to keep children away from what is the gateway drug, and that’s marijuana?” Cooper asked.

Nearly 64,000 patient registrations have been issued by the Michigan Department of Community Health out of more than 111,000 original and renewal applications received since April 2009, Cooper said. Defense attorney Neil Rockind, who is representing clients accused of running illegal dispensaries in Waterford and Ferndale, disputed Cooper’s assertion about the law.

“The law doesn’t say dispensaries are illegal. It seems like that would be easy to include in the law if that were the intent of the individuals who drafted it,” Rockind said. “The law doesn’t say that caregivers and patients can’t pool their resources to make marijuana more available to qualifying patients.”

via : The Detroit News

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