When medical marijuana laws were put in place in Michigan, not everything was covered – they merely allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana, and caregivers and patients to grow their own supply of medical marijuana, based on either how much is a reasonable supply for themselves or for the patients they look after. However, it never specifically covered whether or not dispensaries were legal – let alone establishing a process from cultivation to distribution of the plant. But that didn’t stop dispensaries from cropping up all over the state.
Unfortunately for patients who have been relying on those dispensaries, many of them have been forced to shut down over the years – and in Kent County, there were three dispensaries in total shut down by the Kent County Narcotics Enforcement Team last Tuesday. In response to these raids that will force patients to drive out of town or grow their own medical cannabis, patients and volunteers from Third Day and Provision Center dispensaries (which were closed down) will be organizing a protest of the raids at the Plainfield Township Hall on December 2nd.
“It’s just unfortunate. We’ve got a lot of cancer patients and stuff that are really benefiting from this program and now they have to drive to Lansing and other places. A lot of tears shed today,” said dispensary volunteer Forrest Powell.
Now, because the current laws do not specifically outline regulations for dispensaries, they are technically operating illegally – or at least operating in a grey area for most cities. But Kent County has had a ban on dispensaries from the get-go, so none of them should have been able to open in the first place. It’s surprising that they were even able to open and remain open as long as they did – and Plainfield Township Superintendent Cameron Van Wyngarden released a statement that the shops had continued to operate after verbal and written warnings, prior to the raids this past week.
“It will create a legit industry in the state,” said Callton. “Right now it’s been kind of the wild, wild West, where people just seem to open stuff that’s against the law and then they kind of dare their municipality to close them.”
Luckily, Governor Rick Snyder signed new regulations into law in September, which will finally create a legal system with requirements and regulations for medical marijuana industry businesses. The only downside is that they still have to work out many of the specifics after the law goes into effect in January, and dispensaries will not likely be able to even apply for a license prior to midway into next year. On the bright side, it will finally bring legitimacy to the industry in Michigan, which has been severely lacking as dispensaries around the state continue to open only to be raided and shut down in the end.