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Supreme Court Review Of Medical Marijuana Case May Impact Genesee County Dispensaries

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GENESEE COUNTY, MI -- The state's Supreme Court announced today it will review an Isabella County case that may have a deep impact on Genesee County dispensaries and patient-to-patient transfers of medical marijuana everywhere in Michigan.


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The state's Supreme Court will review an Isabella County case that closed a Mount Pleasant medical marijuana dispensary in August 2011.

A three-judge Court of Appeals panel ruled in August 2011 that Mount Pleasant-based dispensary Compassionate Apothecary could be shuttered because of patient-to-patient sales and declaration of the facility as a public nuisance.


Nick Panessidi, operator of Michigan Safe Transfer on Corunna Road in Flint, which sells marijuana grown by patients and caregivers, hopes the high court's ruling will offer some clarification of the state's Medical Marihuana Act act passed by voters in 2008.


"I think everyone deserves the right to know, one way or another, what the law is," he said. "I would just have to remind you that 63 percent of the people voted for this (act). It's not going to go away."


Panessidi, who also owns and operates the certification clinic Michigan Wellness Center in Flint Township, wasn't hedging his bets on a potential outcome.


"Having the Supreme Court weigh in...no one knows how that will fare," said Panessidi.


Lapeer County Prosecutor Byron Konschuh said the act, as was stated by judges in the Isabella County case, was written to allow each registered caregiver to provide marijuana to five patients, and is a fairly open-and-shut case.


"I think it's a clarification. I don't think it's that much of a grey area," he said. "(There are) no patient-to-patients transfers permitted."


Konschuh said the state should not allow exchange of marijuana between patients, because those using other prescribed medications aren't allowed to freely exchange with one another.


"They want to treat marijuana as a medicine and share it socially, like a beer," he said. "Either you're using it as a medication or it's a social thing."


In Burton, city council members recently approved a second six-month moratorium on any new licenses for medical marijuana distribution facilities based on cases such as the Mt. Pleasant court proceeding.


"This is one of those cases," said City Attorney Rick Austin of the Isabella County case. "There are a handful of cases bubbling up through the appellate court system that are going to shed some light on things.


Four dispensaries opened in Burton before the August ruling and have been allowed to continue operating in the city.


Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton has said he will not take any legal action against a dispensary unless a complaint is lodged by a local government deeming them a public nuisance.


Panessidi's main concern during the debate and court orders is to maintain access to patients, stating, "We would like to make sure there are safe transfer areas for these people to get their medicine."


He is organizing a town hall meeting in Flint Township and hopes state legislators will attend to chat about dispensaries and pending bills that could restrict or control the use of medical marijuana for certain ailments, such as glaucoma.


"That's what we can do to have an impact, stay in touch with these legislators," he said. "We're trying to get where the people in this community can weigh in to the people that make the decisions and the votes."







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