Attorney General: No Joint Growing Under Michigan Medical Marijuana Act

Attorney General: No Joint Growing Under Michigan Medical Marijuana Act

August 6, 2011

MI Attorney General issues statement saying new medical marijuana law does not allow for cooperative growing.

August 06, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ — In 2008, state voters adopted the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (“MMMA”). While the MMMA did not repeal any existing Michigan laws regarding marijuana, it did carve out a specific exception to shield certain qualifying individuals from state-level criminal liability.

Until very recently, it was uncertain whether patients otherwise in compliance with MMMA could legally cooperate in marijuana plant cultivation. But, according to a new opinion from the Michigan Attorney General, only individual growing and use is contemplated by the MMMA.

Separate, Secure Growing Facilities Required

Late in June of 2011, Attorney General Bill Schuette issued an advisory opinion in response to an inquiry from two State Senators and two State Representatives: the lawmakers wanted to know whether cooperative cultivation, storage and sharing of medical marijuana are permissible under the MMMA.

The MMMA allows a qualified, registered patient or their primary caregiver to grow up to 12 marijuana plants. However, patients may only possess a maximum of 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana.

While a patient may only have a single primary caregiver, each primary caregiver that has been issued a registration card under the MMMA is allowed to assist up to five patients. That means a primary caregiver may possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable medical marijuana per patient, and if asked, may cultivate as many as 12 marijuana plants per patient.

Still, marijuana cooperatives are not mentioned in the MMMA, and Attorney General Schuette derived the intent of voters from the plain language of the statute itself. Since the MMMA is silent on the formation of marijuana cooperatives, there is no evidence that voters intended to allow an exception to criminal liability for their creation.

Furthermore, the MMMA requires patients to cultivate marijuana plants within an “[e]nclosed, locked facility” that is inaccessible to anyone except the patient and his or her primary caregiver. Even if authority to grow a patient’s marijuana plants has been delegated to a primary caregiver (in which case not even the patient may access the growing facility), if the caregiver is assisting more than one patient, each patient’s plants must be kept in separate, secure rooms or enclosed areas.

Legal Uncertainty

The opinion of the Attorney General is not legally binding; it is merely an official opinion on how a court would likely rule. As such, there are still a number of open questions about marijuana cultivation under the MMMA.

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If you have questions about medical marijuana or the MMMA, contact a Michigan attorney today.

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