Schuette: Ruling Against Medical Marijuana Dispensary a Victory for Public Safety, Local Communities

Contact: John Sellek or Joy Yearout 517-373-8060
Agency: Attorney General

August 24, 2011

LANSING - Attorney General Bill Schuette today praised an important ruling from the Michigan Court of Appeals which found marijuana dispensaries conducting patient-to-patient sales are illegal and can be shut down under Michigan's public nuisance law.  The case arose from Schuette and Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick's challenge to a for-profit scheme of marijuana sales among patients at a Mount Pleasant marijuana dispensary, Compassionate Apothecary.  The ruling now stands as precedent for all other lower court cases and carries immediate effect.

"This ruling is a huge victory for public safety and Michigan communities struggling with an invasion of pot shops near their schools, homes and churches," said Schuette.  "Today the Court echoed the concerns of law enforcement, clarifying that this law is narrowly focused to help the seriously ill, not the creation of a marijuana free-for-all."

Schuette will send a letter to Michigan's 83 county prosecutors explaining that the ruling clearly empowers them to close dispensaries and provide instructions on how to file similar nuisance actions to close dispensaries in their own counties.

A three judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Compassionate Apothecary is in violation of the state Public Health Code and the MMMA in State of Michigan v. Brandon McQueen and Matthew Taylor, d/b/a Compassionate Apothecary, LLC. The Court concluded that:

  • The MMMA does not legalize marijuana;
  • The MMMA authorizes marijuana use only in "very limited circumstances;"
  • The "medical use" of marijuana does not include the sale of marihuana;
  • The MMMA does not authorize marijuana dispensaries; and
  • The courts can infer that a dispensary's purpose is not to alleviate a debilitating medical condition.

In March 2011, Schuette joined Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick in his appeal of the case, The Isabella County prosecutor's office sought to have Compassionate Apothecary, a medical marijuana club owned by Mt. Pleasant residents Brandon McQueen and Matthew Taylor, declared a public nuisance and closed on the grounds its activities violated the MMMA.   Burdick and Schuette argued the marijuana dispensary violated the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) by allowing profits from medical marijuana sales, in addition to patient-to-patient marijuana transactions, and the possession of medical marijuana in excess of legal limits by the club owners. The club allows patient-to-patient sales of marijuana, with the club profiting by taking a 20% commission.