Mich court bars sale of medical marijuana


DETROIT—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 and cuts off a source for people with chronic ailments.

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’re among the 99,500 who have state-issued marijuana cards.

The court said Compassionate Apothecary in Mount Pleasant, Mich., can be immediately shut down as a “public nuisance.” The 3-0 decision means local authorities can pursue similar businesses, estimated at 200 to 300, in their communities.

It was not immediately clear whether they would, but state Attorney General Bill Schuette said he’s notifying all 83 county prosecutors.

“This ruling is a huge victory for public safety and Michigan communities struggling with an invasion of pot shops near their schools, homes and churches,” Schuette said in a statement. “The court echoed the concerns of law enforcement, clarifying that this law is narrowly focused to help the seriously ill, not the creation of a marijuana free-for-all.”

Of course, not everyone shares that view. Chuck Ream, president of an Ann Arbor shop, called the ruling an “assault on democracy” nearly three years after voters approved marijuana as a way to relieve pain or other medical problems. He estimates that one-third of people with marijuana cards get pot through dispensaries, with others growing their own or getting it through a registered caregiver.

“If they want wheelchairs chained to every door at the Capitol, if they want to fight about this — oh, boy, they’ll have a fight,” said Ream of A2 Compassionate Healthcare. “There are a lot of people who don’t want to be drooling idiots on Oxycontin. They’ve found a medicine that relieves their pain and makes them happy.”

There is no dispute that the marijuana law makes no mention of dispensaries; it doesn’t even indicate how people should get their dope. It says people can possess up to 2.5 ounces of “usable” pot and keep up to 12 plants in a locked place. A caregiver also can provide marijuana.

Compassionate Apothecary, and owners of the mid-Michigan company, claimed they weren’t doing anything illegal because the law allows the “delivery” and “transfer” of marijuana. The business allows its 345 members to sell marijuana to each other, with the owners taking as much as a 20 percent cut. In less than three months, Compassionate Apothecary earned $21,000 before expenses after opening in May 2010.

“The `medical use’ of marijuana does not include patient-to-patient `sales’ of marijuana. Defendants, therefore, have no authority under the (law) to operate a marijuana dispensary that actively engages in and carries out patient-to-patient sales,” said appeals court judges Joel Hoekstra, Christopher Murray and Cynthia Diane Stephens.

Compassionate Apothecary attorney John Lewis said the shop was still in business Wednesday but likely not for long.

“It’s unfortunate for patients who benefit from medical marijuana. It’s going to affect their access to an uninterrupted supply,” Lewis said.

Ricky Lewis, 53, of Southgate said he’s relied on a Detroit-area dispensary to ease symptoms of glaucoma. He said he can’t afford to grow marijuana because lights add $300 to $400 to his monthly electricity bill.

When people are compelled to buy marijuana on the street, “you may not get what you need; you may get robbed,” said Lewis, no relation to the attorney.

Corrina Neff, a board member with the nonprofit Weidman Compassion Club in Isabella County, said the phone was ringing nonstop Wednesday from people “freaking out, panicking, wondering where they’re supposed to get their meds from.”

“We’re going to do everything we can to comply with the law, but I just can’t say no to people who are really suffering,” Neff said. “So I’m probably just going to give it to them for free and I’ll have to offset my costs somewhere else.”

Just this week, an ordinance took effect in Ann Arbor, a liberal college town, to license dispensaries. Many already operate there.

“How this works will have to be reviewed” because of the court ruling, city attorney Stephen Postema said.

Nick Tennant, who advises marijuana users at a Detroit-area trade school called Med Grow Cannabis College, said he wasn’t surprised by the decision. Opening a shop, he said, was “extremely risky.”

“Our law gives no specific guidelines to the operation of dispensaries — nothing. Other states do. Look at Colorado,” Tennant said.

Indeed, medical marijuana is more than 10 years old in Colorado. On July 1, dozens of rules took effect there allowing and regulating the sale of pot at commercial businesses. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia allow the medical use of marijuana.

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

“This law was poorly crafted, poorly written, and there have been some unintended consequences,” Schuette, the attorney general, told The Associated Press.

By Ed White

Associated Press / August 24, 2011


DENVER – A NASCAR driver has been suspended indefinitely after testing positive for marijuana. But Ronnie Hults says he got the drug legally, as a prescription for chronic pain.

While the state constitution allows people to smoke and buy medical marijuana, those rules may not apply to your workplace.

More than 127,000 people have medical marijuana cards in Colorado, but all can be suspended or fired if their employer has a policy against drug use.

That is what happened to Hults and now his NASCAR career could be over.

“Since I was a kid I’ve always told everybody I’m going to be a racecar driver,” he said.

Hults, whose nickname is “speedy,” says his doctor prescribed him medical marijuana for chronic back pain from a car accident.

“I’m only using medical marijuana at night to sleep when my hips are on fire and I have back pain,” he said.

Three weeks ago, before a big race, NASCAR officials told Hults there was a problem.

“They drug tested me at 8 a.m. that morning,” he said. “They said somebody called to complain that I was a ‘nemesis’ to the race track.”

Hults says he was not high when he got behind the wheel.

“I am sober at the time when I race a car,” he said.

“Ronnie is not doing this at the track or before a race. He’s not endangering anybody,” Gabriel Schwartz, Hults’ attorney, said. “We’re a medical marijuana state. It’s in our state constitution.”

Scwartz wants NASCAR to change its drug policy.

However, Amendment 20 to the Colorado Constitution, which covers medical marijuana, says: “Nothing in this section shall require any employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any work place.”

“As it stands right now, the employer’s got all the cards,” Curtis Graves, an attorney with the Mountain States Employers Council, said.

Graves says that means your boss can punish you, even if you have a prescription.

“If [an employer] says you’re fired for testing positive for marijuana, then that’s the way it goes,” he said.

Graves says that may change as the law evolves.

“Medical marijuana is like any other prescription drug. It’s going to have side effects,” 9Health Reporter Dr. John Torres said.

Dr. John says the affects after 12 hours, when Hults was going to drive, depends on your metabolism.

“Somebody like this is driving at high speeds and could endanger other people,” he said.

Hults insists he’s not a danger to anyone.

“It all comes down to justice and what’s fair,” he said.

He wants to continue using medical marijuana and continue his racing career.

“That is my dream. It has been stolen from me,” he said.

9NEWS contacted NASCAR for comment on Tuesday. A spokesman issued a statement, and then later retracted it, saying the suspension of Hults speaks for itself




Medical cannabis activists are increasingly fighting dispensary bans at the ballot box.

By David Downs

Green Berets are an elite military cadre known for working in foreign lands where they build up local fighting forces. Now, California’s medical cannabis reform movement has something of its own Green Beret.

His name is Craig Beresh, and he’s director of San Diego NORML and president of the California Cannabis Coalition. Beresh is at the center of a series of voter uprisings that are turning the tables on medical marijuana’s foes in the battleground counties of inland and Southern California. This fall, medical marijuana activists organized by Beresh have begun wielding a powerful tool to crush bans on dispensaries: the referendum petition drive.

One such drive is underway to overturn a local ban on pot clubs in Kern County. Other drives have already halted San Diego’s promised crackdown on clubs as well as an ordinance in Butte County.

Beresh said the will of the people can easily override dumb marijuana laws enacted by politicians, and any county or city in the state can raise similar challenges. More referendums are to come in Fresno and possibly the Bay Area. It’s the latest in a fifteen-year battle for safe access to medical cannabis in the state.

California voters exempted qualified medical patients and caregivers from state pot laws in 1996, and then in 2004, voters granted them a right to collectively or cooperatively grow and distribute the plant. The lawfulness of storefront dispensaries is an “unresolved legal question,” however, according to documents leaked from the California attorney general’s office.

In reality, California medical marijuana law is a lot like Utah liquor law: “Wet” counties like San Francisco and cities like Oakland tax and regulate clubs while “dry” counties like San Diego and Santa Clara ban them and raid them. Americans for Safe Access says there are 161 city bans and 17 county bans in the state.

But many of the bans are failing to stop clubs from opening. This year, San Diego attempted to zone clubs out of existence. In response, a coalition of San Diego dispensaries that Beresh helped organize created a legal fund and gathered 47,126 signatures to put a recall of the ordinance to a citywide vote. “How it works is if a county [or city] passes a ban, you have thirty days in which to get this certified amount of signatures required to throw it on the ballot,” Beresh explained.

There can be dozens of clubs in any given county fighting for the right to exist. Beresh said he gets besieged clubs as well as patients and other health organizations to each chip in about id=”mce_marker”,000 to $2,000 for signature-gathering efforts. “I just say, ‘You have the right to do this. The voters have spoken. Is it worth one or two thousand dollars to stay in business? If you are all together, we can do this.'”

Beresh deploys paid, professional signature gatherers, because, he said, “patients don’t do well collecting signatures.” Once signatures are verified, pot club bans are suspended immediately until voters have their say in an election.

But the mere cost of a special election can deter most cash-strapped city councils and county supervisory boards. The San Diego city council ordinance has since been repealed, and the mayor has pledged not to raid clubs, Beresh said. “Once it was on the ballot, they backed down.”

Beresh simultaneously assisted clubs in Butte County in the Central Valley. Dispensaries there hired paid signature-gatherers to get 12,000 names to overturn a new ban. The gatherers collected 20,000.

Then Beresh turned his attention to Kern County, where supervisors passed an urgency ordinance to ban clubs and limit growing to twelve cannabis plants per parcel. Beresh sat with a group of collectives to initiate a referendum, and he expects them to gather enough signatures in time. “They’re more than on track,” he said. “They’re over-track.”

Beresh said about half the states in America have laws that allow residents of cities and counties to challenge local ordinances at the ballot box, but it’s a rarely used tool. In Kern County, the clerk of eighteen years had to look up and study the referendum process, as the county has never had one, he said.

Kern County officials, however, are forging ahead with their ban, and if a referendum to overturn it goes to a vote of the people, it could cost the broke county about a million dollars. “I told [the supervisors], ‘If you take it to the election it will cost no less than $500,000, and more in the realm of a million dollars, and with a special election it goes to two or three million,'” Beresh said. “Their faces turned white.”

Beresh, a longtime organizer and former marketer, said he only goes where he’s invited. “It’s up to the community itself,” he said. “They have to want to do it. I can’t just walk into a community and say, ‘We’re doing a referendum.’ It doesn’t happen that way.”

He said Southern and inland California patients are sick of being persecuted. “There are strong communities out there, it’s just a matter of getting in there and pulling them together.”

He is also closely watching a major Bay Area county where citizens overwhelmingly approved a tax on clubs with 78.33 percent of the vote. That tax has brought in a reported 25 million since March, yet the city council in the county’s largest city is at work on shutting down the industry. “I have my eyes squarely on San Jose,” Beresh said.

Marijuana genome: Fighting cancer, dude Say hello to my little friend!

The announcement that a small Marblehead company has isolated the genome of the marijuana plant brought the predictable snickers, but the research seems to hold legitimate medical promise. The company, Medicinal Genomics, published the hundreds of millions of letters of DNA that make up Cannabis sativa in hopes of spurring research into the plant’s cancer-fighting potential.

Medical marijuana is legal in 16 states – not including Massachusetts – but there is still much to be learned about its possible therapeutic uses. Unfortunately, though, the debate seems to bring out the worst in everyone. Foes of drug laws have latched on to marijuana’s medical uses, cynically exploiting them as a way to bring about de facto legalization. By the same token, drug warriors have too often simply dismissed out of hand the possibility that the much-vilified weed might actually be good for you sometimes.


Every year, The Princeton Review serves up a list of so-called “Reefer Madness” universities, meaning widespread marijuana use on campus. Here are their stoniest schools for 2011:

1. Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO
2. University of California at Santa Cruz
3. University of California at Santa Barbara
4. University of Colorado at  Boulder
5. Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
6. Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR
7. Warren Wilson College, Asheville, NC
8. Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL
9. New College of Florida, Sarasota, FL
10. University of Vermont at Burlington
11. Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA
12. New York University, New York, NY
13. Reed College, Portland, OR
14. Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
15. Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY
16. Pitzer College, Claremont, CA
17. Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
18. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
19. Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY
20. Grinnell College, Grinnell, IANotes: Five of the schools are in New York; three are in California; two each are in Colorado, Florida and Portland, OR.

OBAMA… “US WORLD LEADER !” AT LOSS FOR WORDS ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA – “you know — well — – I’ll — I’ll — I’ll — I’ll leave it at that.”???

Regardless of one’s opinion of President Obama as a political figure, it is hard to deny his skill as an eloquent orator. So it is notable, even newsworthy, when the Commander-in-Chief is publicly at a loss for words.

Such was the case yesterday at a Presidential Town hall in Cannon Falls, Minnesota when a flustered, tongue-tied Obama attempted in vain to explain why his administration continues to oppose efforts to allow for the legal use of cannabis as a doctor-recommended medicine.

Confused? Perhaps this transcript will help to better articulate the President’s position:

Audience member: “If you can’t legalize marijuana, why can’t we just legalize medical marijuana, to help the people that need it?”

Obama: “Well, you know, a lot of states are making decisions about medical marijuana. As a controlled substance, the issue then is, you know, is it being prescribed by a doctor, as opposed to, you know — well — – I’ll — I’ll — I’ll — I’ll leave it at that.”

And leave it at that he did.



It is curious that President Obama — someone who is use to speaking extemporaneously in public — could not articulate one single legitimate reason (nor could his former Press Secretary) why his administration believes in continuing the federal ban on marijuana, including the use of medical marijuana for ill patients. Obama’s failure to communicate becomes even more surprising when one considers that within just the past few weeks, high-profile members of the Obama administration have publicly put forward several alleged ‘justifications’ for why the federal government ought to be in the business of denying medical marijuana to sick people.

For instance, the White House’s 2011 National Drug Control Strategy, released in July, devoted an entire sectionto rebuffing the notion of cannabis’ use as a legitimate therapy, stating:

Marijuana and other drugs are addictive and unsafe, especially for use by young people. Unfortunately, efforts to “medicalize” marijuana have widened the public acceptance and availability of the drug.

There is no substitute for the scientific approval process employed by the FDA. For a drug to be made available to the public as medicine, the FDA requires rigorous research followed by tests for safety and efficacy. Only then can a substance be classified as medicine and prescribed by qualified health care professionals to patients.

In the wake of state and local laws that permit distribution of “medical” marijuana, dozens of localities have been left to grapple with poorly written laws that bypass the FDA process and allow marijuana to be used as a so-called medicine. … Outside the context of federally approved research, the use and distribution of marijuana is prohibited in the United States.

In addition, less than one-month ago, Obama’s hand-picked DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart formally denied a nine-year-old petition calling on the agency to initiate hearings to reassess the present classification of marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance without any ‘accepted medical use in treatment.’ Leonhart’s justification, as stated in in the July 8, 2011 edition of the Federal Register:

[Cannabis possesses] a high potential for abuse; … no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; … [and] lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision. … [T]here are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving its efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts. … At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.

So if the Obama administration is willing to make such allegations in writing, then why is the President afraid to own up to and repeat these claims in public? Likely because he, like a majority of Americans, are aware that there isn’t a shred of scientific support for the administration’s ‘Flat Earth’ position.

So if the President of the United States can’t publicly articulate why we continue to arrest over one-half million Americans each year for possessing marijuana, then why are we as a nation continuing to engage in this destructive and illogical policy?

[Update! A slightly edited version of this commentary, entitled ‘If Obama can’t articulate his position on marijuana, why won’t he reconsider it?’, is is now online at The Hill.com’s Congress blog here. Please review and leave your feedback for members of Congress and their staff here.]


Already associated with a pot shop in Sacramento, medical marijuana advocate Montell Williams is now seeking approval to help run a dispensary in Washington, DC.
Abatin Wellness Center of Sacramento hopes to secure one of the licenses that would allow the group to open a store in the nation’s capitol.Williams, who suffers form MS and was recently voted a Top CelebStoner, is “not the managing director or the driving guy,” says DC attorney Frederick D. Cooke Jr. “But he is certainly at a level more involved than being a face of the organization. He knows a lot about the organization, and he speaks and gets resources. He does stuff that makes the organization go.”William joins former NBA player Cuttino Mobley as celebs who are getting into the medical cannabis business. He’s the principle owner of Summit Medical Compassion Center in Rhode Island and an investor in Northeast Patients Group in Maine.

Medical marijuana activist and former talk show host Montel Williams was cited for possession of a marijuana pipe at the International Airport in Milwaukee yesterday. TSA employees found the pipe as he passed through a security checkpoint. He paid a $484 citation and was released. Of course, he easily could have been arrested. The police made almost 760,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2009 alone (the latest year comprehensive data is available).

It’s bad enough that TSA is wasting time and taxpayer money looking for marijuana and other drugs when they should be singularly focused on finding bombs and other threats. It’s even worse given the enormous public support for changing our country’s failed marijuana laws. Polls show Americans support medical marijuana by large margins (consistently more than 70%), and a near majority support legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana like alcohol. No other set of laws is both enforced so widely and harshly and yet deemed unnecessary by such a substantial portion of the populace.

Williams was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999 and went public with about his medical marijuana use in late 2003. Since then, he has tirelessly campaigned for changes in state and federal laws to expand access to marijuana as a medicine. In addition to writing Climbing Higher, his 2004 autobiography that detailed his struggle with MS and the therapeutic benefits of marijuana, Williams has hosted TV shows on the topic of medical marijuana, authored op-ed pieces in major newspapers, and used his platform as a public figure to press legislators across the country to enact new drug policies based on compassion, reason and science. In particular, Williams traveled to state capitals in Albany, NY and Trenton, NJ, as well as Washington, D.C., to urge elected officials to pass medical marijuana legislation.

Fifteen states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized marijuana for medical use. Yet even though politicians from Sarah Palin to President Obama have admitted to using marijuana, possession of marijuana for any reason remains a federal crime. Federal law enforcement officials even go so far as to arrest medical marijuana patients and their caregivers in states that have legalized medical marijuana. This defies both the will of the voters and common sense. It is long past time for Congress to take action. Changing federal law to protect medical marijuana patients like Montel Williams would be a good first step






Buds, nuggets, wacky-tobaccy, stinkweed, rope, weed. No matter what you call it, marijuana is prevalent in the world of everyday Joes, and ever-present in the world of professional athletics.

Guys get caught with it in hotel rooms, airports, their rides and NBA Rookie Symposiums, but it doesn’t divert them from smoking that fine chronic (allegedly).

Ready yourself for the 25 Biggest Potheads in Sports History.

*This list does not by any means suggest that marijuana use will improve your athletic ability!

According to Bleacher Report, Ricky Williams is the biggest pothead in sports history. Here’s the list:

1. Ricky Williams
2. Nate Newton
3. Todd Marinovich
4. Lance Mackey
5. Corie Blount
6. Udonis Haslem
7. Mark Stepnowski
8. Rob Van Dam
9. Ross Rebagliati
10. Bam Morris
11. Isaiah JR Rider

12. Chris Webber
13. Rasheed Wallace
14. Allen Iverson
15. Santonio Holmes
16. Dmitri Young
17. Randy Moss
18. Josh Howard
19. Bill Walton
20. Michael Beasley
21. Geovany Soto
22. Michael Phelps 
23. Carmelo Anthony
24. Michael Vick
25. Tim Lincecum

Glaring omissions: Orlando Cepeda, Bill Lee, Robert Parish, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Larry Hagman found Compassion on Psychedelic Drugs

 Larry Hagman - Dallas

Veteran TV actor Larry Hagman took his share of drugs during the ’60s. Encouraged by Jack Nicholson, Hagman, who played J.R. Ewing on Dallas, began to regularly smoke marijuana. Musician David Crosby introduced him to LSD, which Hagman calls “such a profound experience that it changed my pattern of life and my way of thinking.”

In today’s New York Times, he relates a story about taking mescaline on an Indian reservation:”Well, I was in a hut with about 10 young Indian boys. I took this stuff and got real sick, but after a while that passed, and I looked down and I had bird’s claws, bird’s feet and fur instead of feathers. I thought, Well, golly, this is interesting. I flew around the hut, and then I flew through the wall and flew around the reservation and came back. It was a heavy-duty spiritual thing. I wouldn’t particularly want to do it again, but it was a wonderful experience. I’m sure it was an out-of-body experience. And I enjoyed flying too…

“For me, [psychedelics] gave me great compassion and a love of everything. It comes into play in your permanent psyche.”

POT KOSHER? Israeli Government Officially Recognizes The Therapeutic Value Of Cannabis — Pot Production And Distribution To Begin January 2012

The Israeli government this week formally acknowledged the therapeutic utility of cannabis and announced newly amended guidelines governing the state-sponsored production and distribution of medical cannabis to Israeli patients.

A prepared statement posted Monday on the website of office of the Israeli Prime Minister states: “The Cabinet today approved arrangements and supervision regarding the supply of cannabis for medical and research uses. This is in recognition that the medical use of cannabis is necessary in certain cases. The Health Ministry will – in coordination with the Israel Police and the Israel Anti-Drug Authority – oversee the foregoing and will also be responsible for supplies from imports and local cultivation.”

According to Israeli news reports, approximately 6,000 Israeli patients are supplied with locally grown cannabis as part of a limited government program. This week’s announcement indicates that government officials intend to expand the program to more patients and centralize the drug’s cultivation. “[T]here are predictions that doctor and patient satisfaction is so high that the number could reach 40,000 in 2016,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

The Israeli Ministry of Health is expected to oversee the production of marijuana in January 2012.

Similar government-sponsored medical marijuana programs are also active in Canada and the Netherlands.

By contrast, in July the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) formally denied a nine-year-old petition calling on the agency to initiate hearings to reassess the present classification of marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance, stating in the July 8, 2011 edition of the Federal Register that cannabis has “a high potential for abuse; … no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; … [and] lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision.”