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Michigan Court Bars Sale Of Medical Marijuana

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Medical marijuana cannot be sold through private shops, the Michigan appeals court said Wednesday in a major decision that strikes at businesses trying to cash in on pot.

A three-judge panel said the 2008 medical marijuana law, as well as the state's public health code, does not allow people to sell pot to each other, even if they have state-issued marijuana cards.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette told WWJ Newsradio 950s he is pleased with the ruling.

"No one voted to have pot shops across from schools. Nobody voted to have pot shops across from churches, and nobody voted to legalize marijuana," said Schuette.

WWJ legal analyst Charlie Langton explained what the ruling means to pot-for-pain users.

"If you're a patient, there's only two ways to get it. You can grow your own, or you can have a caregiver. And you better have a card that has the caregiver's name on it," said Langton.

"You can get up twelve plants, and that's the only way to get your medical marijuana. Otherwise, if you go into some storefront dispensary or whatever and get your medical marijuana, good luck. You are breaking the law," he said.

Langton added that getting a dose from your doctor is not an option either.  He said the law allows doctors only to prescribe, not to dispense.

Hear our full interview with Charlie Langton:

WWJ Newsradio 950

The court said Compassionate Apothecary in Mount Pleasant can be immediately shut down as a "public nuisance."

Langton said he believes there may be an attempt to appeal the ruling, but doesn't believe the high court will take the case.

"The reason I say that is because nowhere in the Medical Marijuana Act does the word dispensary appear," he said.  "The Medical Marijuana Act, although it is a little unclear in other areas, it really does define who and where you can get your medical marijuana."

It is the first time the appeals court has ruled in a case involving commercial pot sales. The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to hear appeals on other aspects of the medical marijuana law.

Compassionate Apothecary allows certain people to sell marijuana to each other, with the owners taking as much as a 20 percent cut. In less than three months, the business earned $21,000 before expenses after opening in May 2010.

Authorities went to court to shut down the business, but a judge refused, saying the medical marijuana law allowed the transfer of pot from patient to patient.

Compassionate Apothecary has 345 members. They are certified by the state to use marijuana to alleviate pain or other medical problems, or they are registered caregivers for patients. They can rent marijuana lockers for $50 a month.

There are similar businesses in Traverse City and Lansing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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