[JURIST] A Michigan court of appeals ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that medical marijuana [JURIST news archive] cannot be sold at private dispensaries. The defendants are owners of Compassionate Apothecary (CA) [company website], a privately owned medical marijuana dispensary that facilitates patient-to-patient transfer of marijuana using a locker system for patients to store and trade excess marijuana. CA retains 20 percent of the proceeds from each transaction and has 345 members that are certified by the state to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. A county attorney general filed a complaint against the owners seeking to enjoin operations for failing to comply with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) [text]. Judge Joel Hoekstra’s opinion focused on the definition and application of terminology in the relevant statutes:
The word “use” has numerous dictionary definitions, as does the word “administer.” However, each word has a definition that relates directly to controlled substances or medicines, and we find those definitions to be the most relevant. To “use” means “to drink, smoke, or ingest habitually.” … Employing these definitions, we hold that a person assists a registered qualifying patient with “using or administering” marihuana when the person assists the patient in preparing the marihuana to be consumed in any of the various ways that marihuana is commonly consumed or by physically aiding the patient in consuming the marihuana.
The three-judge panel concluded that CA was a public nuisance in violation of the Public Health Code (PHC) [text], which prohibits the possession and delivery of marijuana, holding that the owners’ locker system constituted possession and delivery of marijuana.
US Courts have been forced to interpret medical marijuana statutes in recent years. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) [official website] announced in June that the state is filing a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking a declaratory judgment over the legality of the state’s controversial medical marijuana law passed last November. In January 2010, the California Supreme Court [official website] overturned [JURIST report] a 2003 law limiting the amount of marijuana that may be possessed under the state’s Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) [materials]. Earlier that month, New Jersey became the fourteenth US state [JURIST report] to legalize medical marijuana. In November 2009, voters in Maine approved [JURIST report] an expansion of the state’s existing medical marijuana laws, making Maine the fifth state to allow dispensaries, following California, Colorado, Rhode Island and New Mexico. California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled in 2008 that the MMP is not in conflict with the Supremacy Clause [JURIST report] and does not violate the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) [text].