Medical Marijuana

Michigan plassed the Michigan Medical Marihuana (Marijuana) Act (MMMA) in 2008. There has been considerable effort from prosecutors and judges, spearheaded by Oakland County Prosecutor, Jessica Cooper, to widdle away at the freedoms awarded to medical marijuana patients and to criminalize a lot of the conduct that the Act was designed to protect. A new set of legislation soon coming out of lansing will take back a lot of the territory that the court’s have taken away, including the legalization of edibles and extractions for medicinal use.

The MMMA was silent as to local communities’ obligations to implement the Act. While the courts have said that it is illegal for a community to completely disavow the act, as Livonia tried to do, the MMMA lacks clear instruction to local comunities with respect to dispensaries. The result is that most communities have been silent on the legality of dispensaries, with a few notable exceptions that have licensing schemes in place, including Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Jackson.

The Act permits a patient with a “qualifying condition” to possess up to 2 and 1/2 ounces of usable marijuana. The following are “qualifying conditions”:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • Nail patella
  • Nausea
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizures
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasm

In order to cultivate one must be designated as a “caregiver” under the act. This is done when a person fills out an application to be a patient. If a person does not designate a caregiver, then they will be their own caregiver. A caregiver can have up to 12 plants in an enclosed, locked room for each patient that the caregiver has, and a caregiver can have up to five patients. That means that a caregiver can grow 12 x 5 = 60 plants, plus if the caregiver is a patient, he or she can grow another 12. So the maximum a person can grow under the legislation is 72 plants, if the person is a caregiver with five paties, is a patient who hasn’t designated a caregiver, and if each set of 12 plants is in a separate, locked facility.

The full text of the Act can be found here.

Application, instructions, and checklist.


The City of Detroit was initially silent regarding the Act. Once the City began to see dispensaries sepreading like weeds, it had no choice but to enact legislatation controlling the location and operation of dispensaries (“Caregiver Centers”). There are currently over 150 dispensaries in the City.

The zoning aspect of the legislation is unduly restrictive, implementing 1000 foot buffer zones around bars, stripclubs, parks, schools, and churches. The result is that only a handful of properties in the city qualify for the strict zoning ordinance. The City does provide for an appeal process if the proposed site lies in a “Drug Free School Zone”. Most of the 150 were in place before the City ordinance. The City had said it was going to close down those not in compliance with the zoning ordinance, but so far has yet to do so. To see if your property is located in a permissible zone, click here. If its not, you should consult an attorney regarding an appeal of the designation. The application can be found here.