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Court Ruling Hasn't Stopped All Michigan Pot Shops

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BURTON — A huge sign tries to lure customers to Meme's Green Dream. Around the corner, there's Big Daddy's, another marijuana dispensary for people with chronic pain or other health woes. A third shop, The Barn, is less than a mile away here in Genesee County, promising high-quality pot that will deliver “giggle fits.”


The Michigan appeals court four months ago said it's illegal for shops to broker the sale of marijuana, the most significant legal decision since 63 percent of voters approved marijuana for medicinal use in 2008. But the trade hasn't stopped everywhere. Instead, it seems to have flourished in some pockets of the state, thanks to defiant owners and law-enforcement officials with a hands-off approach.




“It's really not one of my priorities, not to mention that I don't have any complaints from police,” said David Leyton, the Flint-based prosecutor in Genesee County. “With the crime rate I deal with — the violence, the murders, the carjackings, the armed robberies — our plate is full.”




Indeed, weedmaps.com lists at least a dozen dispensaries in Genesee County, including four in Burton, about an hour north of Detroit. Some still are operating in the Detroit area, Ann Arbor, and even Adrian in southeastern Michigan. Authorities elsewhere have been aggressive. Oakland County has shut down at least eight dispensaries, and police in northern Michigan recently seized cash and marijuana from three so-called collectives in the Traverse City area.




The result: A statewide court ruling that was supposed to provide clarity to a vague law has simply become a tool of discretion, depending on where you live.




“It was heralded as the death knell for all dispensaries. Well, it wasn't,” said Rick Thompson, a spokesman for Big Daddy's in Burton, Detroit, Sandusky and Macomb County's Chesterfield Township. “We have loved ones who are ill, and we believe in what we're doing. We have to fight for these things while we're still healthy. If we're too sick, it may become too late.”



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