Updated Wednesday, Aug. 24 — Most of the 11 dispensaries on Michigan Avenue closed their doors following the Michigan Court of Appeals ruling today.
However, later today some dispensaries re-opened. Some appeared to be selling marijuana, but others were only providing consultation services or selling other products.
Matthew Taylor, co-owner of the Compassionate Apothecary in Mt. Pleasant, the defendant in the lawsuit, said that his attorney recommended that the dispensary remain closed. The Lansing branch of Compassionate Apothecary was one of the dispensaries that reopened, however. He recommended that other dispensaries follow the advice of his attorney and remain closed.
Top Shelf Budz, 1723 E. Michigan Ave., closed but reopened later in the day. But its owner, Steve Joseph, said he was not selling marijuana.
“A lot of these patients have nowhere to get their medicine now,” Joseph said. “There’s a lot of our patients that are coming here that don’t have caregivers and they rely on us for their medicine. They’re shit out of luck.”
Capitol City Caregivers was closed until further notice. Compassionate Apothecary in Lansing initially closed, but reopened later. Safe Harbor closed initially following the Court of Appeal’s ruling that patient-to-patient sales were illegal and not protected under state law, but opened later on. The Kushion was closed earlier in the day and the phone has been disconnected. The Popcorn Bag closed initially but appeared open by 6 p.m., however employees declined to comment.
Relief Choices of Lansing was open, but only for consultations, its receptionist said, who wanted to remain anonymous. TNT employees had no comment.
The Your Healthy Choice Clinic on Michigan Avenue was open.
Attorney Matt Newburg said that he was advising dispensaries throughout the state to close their doors because of the ruling.
“Now in Michigan it’s clear that the law does not protect (dispensaries),” he said. “If somebody calls me and says ‘What am I supposed to do,’ the law is now clear that it does not support this.”
The Court of Appeals unanimously overturned a ruling in Isabella County that found that found Compassionate Apothecary was operating legally. The Court of Appeals found that patient-to-patient transfers of the drug, which included the transfer of money, were illegal and not protected under the state law. The owners of the dispensary also have a dispensary in Lansing.
“This opinion is now binding on every Circuit and District judge in the State of Michigan,” Newburg said. “If there is an exchange of money involved, both patients are in violation of the law. The implications of this are going to be huge.”
The Court of Appeals did not rule on the legality of patient-to-patient transfers, Newburg said, just those that included money. He said that the ruling would affect every cardholder and every patient in the state, but the individual effect on all of them was not yet known.
The attorney for the Michigan Press Association advised against promoting marijuana in any advertising for dispensaries.
Newburg said the next step for the case was to file an appeal of the decision with the Michigan Supreme Court.
“I think there is a strong legal basis for an appeal,” he said.