Operators of the state’s safe access points are now hiding behind steel doors with peepholes, wary of strangers after a Michigan Supreme Court ruling this month turned them into outlaws, reports Bill Laitner of the Detroit Free Press.
“Nobody I know in this state is advertising this service any more,” said Holice Wood, owner of a compassion club. “It’s all going to be word of mouth from now on.”State Rep. Mike Callton (R-Nashville) is sponsoring a bill that would leave it up to local governments or residents to decide if they want to allow dispensaries to distribute medicinal cannabis.
Although a similar measure died in committee last year, Callton said this year’s bill has a better chance because it comes with bipartisan support — eight Republicans are co-sponsors. Another eight cosponsors are Democrats.
“I’m a Republican and from a conservative area, but I’ve seen growing support from a lot of other legislators for this from both parties,” Callton said. “And now, with this court ruling, it becomes even more important.”
Callton’s bill, HB 4271, would allow each community in Michigan to decide individually whether it wanted to allow dispensaries, and, if so, where they’d be located, he said.
“I want people to be able to take a recommendation for (marijuana) from their doctor; we’re not calling it a prescription; the pharmacy people told me that was that word — and be able to go to what we’re calling a provisionary center,” Callton said.Many Michigan dispensaries have closed their doors in response to the Supreme Court ruling, while those still operating are doing so out of sight and in fear of police raids, according to Wood, 45, who runs the Trans-Love Energies compassion club near Eastern Market in Detroit.
“I believe we can stay in business,” Wood said Friday. “We’re a totally private club.”But Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette — a notoriously fanatical anti-pot extremist — said he plans to instruct all 83 county prosecutors in the state to shut down anything that even looks a dispensary. The letters are going out this week, Schuette’s spokeswoman said on Friday.
“I see medical marijuana as a health care issue,” said Callton, who is known as the first chiropractor to be elected to the Michigan Legislature. “I know a lot of people — I have patients — who have clearly benefitted.”
Attorney General Schuette’s office grandly announced last week that “no new legislation was needed” to protect and regulate medical marijuana, now that he’s shutting down all the dispensaries.
“The Michigan Supreme Court issued a straightforward ruling, and we see no immediate need for legislation at this time,” spokeswoman Joy Yearout said.
The Detroit-based National Patient Rights Association (NPRA), a coalition of dispensary owners, plans to give Callton’s bill lobbying support.
“This will give control back to local government — to zone these centers and to say how many they want,” said Robin Schneider, a lobbyist in Lansing for NPRA.