Michigan is an odd state when it comes to their medical marijuana program; they are one of only two states to legalize medicinal use of cannabis for a wide range of conditions, but don’t offer any legal way for patients to obtain the medicine – aside from growing it. Most states open licensed cultivation, testing and retail facilities in order to ensure product quality and consistency for patients – in Michigan, patients must grow their own cannabis or have it grown by a registered caregiver – but either way, it can take months from the time they register until they are actually able to access medicine this way.
The state has slowly been progressing – dispensaries have opened around the state, but unfortunately they operate in a legal grey area until the laws are amended. The current laws don’t necessarily ban dispensaries – but they don’t exactly allow them either – which leads to a shady line of work for well-meaning, compassionate club owners. It is because of this grey area that dispensaries in Michigan have continued to be raided – and the program is now funding this (whether it meant to or not).
A grant worth $1.2 million has been allocated to local law enforcement in 18 counties for education and enforcement of the laws surrounding the medical marijuana program. That money comes from the fees paid by patients and caregivers in order to become registered with the state. Due to the large volume of patients and caregivers that registered, the amount of revenue far exceeded expectation, leading to this large sum going to law enforcement.
Oakland county will receive around $323,000 of this grant and they have already decided and made public how they intend to spend this money. According to a memo sent to the cities of Oakland County, approximately $98,000 will be spent on 28 “raid-style bullet proof vests”, $80,000 will be spent on a Chevy van, pickup truck and trailer that will be used to transport seized marijuana plants, $10,000 goes to training new investigators and $134,000 will go to paying for over-time for those investigators assigned to the enforce the medical marijuana laws.
The current projections for the revenue from the medical marijuana program show that this grant could continue to grow – offering more counties more funding each year until new regulations are set in place. While it is important to try and keep medical marijuana patients safe, allowing them access to their medicine without waiting for a plant to grow is also important – and Michigan residents simply took matters into their own hands since the state refused to do anything. That money would be much better spent creating a licensed and regulated industry, rather than being spent on raid vests that cost thousands of dollars each.