On September 12, 2017, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Licensing Board left many patients and caregivers with a sense of fear and frustration. As one member of the audience stated, “Does this board want us to start buying drugs on the street? That’s what it sounds like to me? I did everything right and now they are going to compromise my medical needs!!!”
The words of that patient was shared by many when updates were released from the Michigan Cannabis Community. The highlights of the meeting are outlined below and lead many to wonder what will happen next. The points that were stated include:
1. Dispensaries will close on December 15 and will not reopen until late March (if ever).
2. There will be application fees between $4,000-$8,000 required and that money will not be refunded if the application is denied.
3. The regulatory fee for 500 plant grow is capped at $10,000.
4. A regulatory fee will range between $10,000-$57,000 for all other license types.
In addition to these points, there have been reports that law enforcement was taking down the license plates of those in attendance. Reports of this caused concern to many that feel they are being targeted for their cannabis usage despite being lawful at the moment (the law is changing). Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates has built a reputation as the top criminal defense lawyer in the state of Michigan. Grabel weighed in on the meeting. “If the reports are true, here is a profiling situation that is ongoing. Anyone that is versed on the subject knows that Donald Bailey wants a shutdown of the industry. It would not be shocking if the reports were true but if one of our clients was to be subjected to criminal prosecution without having probable cause or reasonable suspicion established prior to a stop we would not stand for it. The patients have done everything correctly. We have consulted with many patients to protect them before this storm of prosecution hits but rest assured, the prosecution is coming. Preparation is more valuable than mitigation after the fact. That has been and will continue to be the goal of our firm.”
Matthew McManus of Ann Arbor Legal spoke of the civil aspect of the meeting. “We do have a taking issues in place. The state cannot just generate income with the distribution of valid cards and then change the law without an economic impact. We recently had a case where a client had to prove their card was valid which is a clear indicator that the Secretary of State could be behind the 8-ball here. There is an abundance of issues looming.”
Grabel added, “The issue of preemption seems to be lost on many. Is this a 10th Amendment issue in place or is the state actually violating their own rules? If so, we are going into the deep part of the pool and only those that are excellent swimmers will survive. I would highly suggest precaution and intellect to be utilized right now.”
With the ever-changing law, it does appear that the state of Michigan seems to be at odds. The legislature and the judiciary are not on the same page as the board and despite what many may say when they solicit a client, only a few litigators are on top of the issue.
William Amadeo is a partner at Ann Arbor Legal in Ann Arbor, Michigan and an Associate Attorney at Grabel and Associates. Amadeo is also a contributing writer for “The Chronicle News” and is the CEO of BAT Tutoring, a bar exam preparation company. Amadeo can be reached at: Amadeo@McManuspllc.com.