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It Is Time To Legalize And Regulate Dispensaries In Michigan


dispensary michigan medical marijuana legalize regulateBy Lee Krasner

The Boston Globe just ran a profile on three people who are planning on applying for the first medical marijuana licenses in the state of Massachusetts. The article takes pains to emphasize how Jonathan Napoli, Eric Germaine, and Catherine Cametti are normal, upstanding entrepreneurs. It seems silly to applaud such bourgeois legitimization, but dispensaries are at such a point in the national discourse that such lionization seems to be necessary. Here’s some truth, though: medical marijuana patients and caregivers come from a range of backgrounds. Patients and caregivers are lawyers and medical personnel, construction workers, farmers, and business-types. And with the expansion of medical marijuana laws, is it any wonder that people are contemplating ways to utilize whatever skills they have?

As per the Globe article, Massachusetts requires $500,000 to apply for a dispensary license. Michigan already has its fair share of dispensaries, though illegal under current law. In Michigan’s current economic climate, there should be no reason to deny new businesses the chance to pay state fees and municipal taxes. And in fact there is a bill in the House to legalize and regulate on a city-by-city basis, sponsored by the Republican representative from the 87th district, Mike Callton. Its status has not changed since February.

The necessity for dispensaries is hard to overstate. While the laws on the books lay claim to some fairness, in practice that is less the case. It is hardly fair to expect a cancer or MS patient to be responsible for the growth and curing of their own medication, and short-sighted to expect that every patient has a green-thumbed person in their life who is also willing to accept the legal risk, however small, that comes with cultivation of marijuana. It seems even more absurd that the state expects there to be one medical marijuana expert per five patients.

Now, at first glance I am not supported by the raw numbers. According to LARA’s Medical Marijuana website, as of the end of May there were 128,441 registered patients and 26,875 caregivers — about 1,200 more caregivers than the perfect five-to-one ratio. While there is no information on the average number of patients per caregiver, it is clearly less than five. Of the caregivers I have spoken to personally, many have only one or two.

This isn’t growing tomatoes or even marijuana for recreational purposes. This is marijuana-as-medicine, which puts it in a completely different category of cultivation. I can grow oregano in a window pot, but I would not trust myself to differentiate between strains that alleviate MS symptoms and strains that relieve chronic pain. Even under that category, the medication used for migraines has different qualities than that used for back pain. I could go on.

Legitimate dispensaries employ experts as budtenders. Arrive with certification, ID, and a list of symptoms, and they can inform any patient on the kind of medication that will best treat those symptoms. Your average windowsill grower isn’t necessarily going to know much about cannabinoids other than THC, not to mention how to breed strains that are CBG-heavy for their glaucoma patient. Dispensaries can be a source of education for caregivers interested in giving their patients the most effective medication that they possibly can. In other states, dispensaries sell clones of the most effective medication for a patient’s needs. For a caregiver or patient just starting out, what other recourse do they have? To somehow acquire seeds, and hope they’re the right ones, hope they grow – hope all sorts of things. Dispensaries solidify and simplify matters for patients and caregivers alike.

Even legal dispensaries can be fraught with difficulties. They are not, for example, eligible for the standard IRS business deductions. They are always under the DEA’s Damoclean sword. President Obama has spent $289 million on cracking down on medical marijuana in states where it has been legalized. And yet, the protection of state law is enough to set many would-be medical marijuana entrepreneurs at their ease, as we read in the Globe article. By not allowing dispensaries on a state level, we do a great disservice to patients.


Source: The Compassion Chronicles


About Author

"Rick Thompson was the Editor in Chief for the entire 2-year run of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, was the spokesman for the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers and is the current Editor and Lead Blogger for The Compassion Chronicles. Rick has addressed committees in both the House and Senate, has authored over 200 articles on marijuana and is a professional photographer." Rick Thompson Is An Author At The Compassion Chronicles and focuses on all things Michigan.


  1. You CAN, in fact, grow your own plants if you have a caregiver. The State offers that option. Until your crop comes in you are permitted to obtain cannabis from the caregiver of your choice. That caregiver can possess 2.5 oz on your behalf in addition to the 2.5 oz you as a patient are permitted to possess. Many caregivers have enough to share on your first contact with them.

  2. It is so unfortunate that our tax dollars are wasted on trying to throw people in jail for MMj! But there is actually a publicly traded company out there that is centered around ensuring that collectives follow the regulation laws for MMJ business model. The true profit potential has not even been realized yet–so it could easily be in the billions annually. The company to look into investing into is medical greens– http://www.medicalgreens.com –it goes by the ticker sign SKTO. They just started up the company in March 2013 but their business plan is to be consultants to collectives in California to ensure that collectives are following the regulations. it is brilliant and they already made 5 million in profits in their first quarter which was only three weeks! the chairman of the board is Kevin Allyn who is a veteran of the entertainment industry–he will be interviewed by a CNN favorite Larry King in the near future to talk more about the MMJ movement and plans for medical greens.

  3. Hawaii State Licensed Cannabis Minister Reverend Roger Christie was imprisoned without trial or bail or visitors since July 8th, 2010. Three years later we continue to demand his immediate release. You are invited to watch a video of his ministry that operated openly on Main Street in Hilo for ten years, with local support, appreciation and approval.

    The Last Marijuana Trial

    How can a person be accused as a danger to their community, when the community has shown their love and approval of Roger in so many ways? A State license to marry people is the most compelling evidence, after considering the work of the ministry itself. In 2001 Roger was the first person awarded the community’s Ho’omaluhia Peacemaker Award.

    Cannabis imprisonment is an economically-motivated attack on the agricultural resource base of the world’s oldest global culture. In truth, Roger is a visionary leader, a peace pioneer, leading us back to a value base that is essential to our species’ ability to achieve sustainability. Cannabis cannot be truly illegal because it is too valuable to be within the rightful jurisdiction of any court.

    The harms imposed by marijuana prohibition on the health and social evolution of humankind is beyond measure. Also significant is that mankind is far beyond its rightful authority in legislating scarcity of an unique and essential natural resource, upon which other species also depend for their survival. We are a part of the Web of Life, not the masters of it.

  4. I’m a Michigan Medical Marijuana Program patient. I do occasionally grow my own but due to a recent move I had to tear down my grow room and have yet to build another in my new house. For me, it is now impossible to obtain marijuana legally. If a patient or a caregiver has additional medication they cannot sell it to me. If they wanted to give it to me free of charge it would also be illegal. I do not have a caregiver designated as doing so would not enable me to grow my own. So what does a person in my situation do? I have two options. Obtain marijuana illegally, or grow my own. I’ve chosen the latter and should have nice medication in about 90 days or so. Until then I have to deal with the pain, all thanks to the legislature and judges deliberately not following the will of the majority of the voting populous of Michigan.

  5. a minimum wage budtender who obviously does not have the same symptoms / maladies cannot possibly recommend medicine to patients. to say so is just silly. not to mention medication (of any kind) affects people in different ways. the same strain might not work for the same condition between two people.

    patients would be better off at some kind of anecdotal results like the leafly website. but that site has its own problems.

    more people would support your dispensary bill if you could guarentee it wont affect the grow rights of patients and caregivers like it has in other mmj states. cant grow yourself if you live within 25 miles from a dispensary? yeah right.

  6. Oh please. It is a medicinal herb. We’ve heard your arguments before Rick. To call it medicine that must be rigidly cultivated under precise conditions and go through rigorous testing to be safe is to say the same for the broccoli and squash that comes from my garden. I have yet to meet anyone in my sixty years who has been harmed by marijuana, regardless the source. How about you? What is the point of suggesting that the hoops you insist are necessary, unless it is to grasp at straws to justify arguments in favor of commercial distribution?

    Copious amounts of information are available online that spell out what to look for in terms of treating specific conditions. Google is my friend. Caregivers and other growers share this knowledge quite widely among ourselves, along with our personal experience, all at half the price we pay at dispensaries.

    Your arguments fall flat.

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