The Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board had their third meeting on September 12 and the outcome of the meeting has left more questions than answered. In what initially seemed like a conservative group that would proceed cautiously has evolved into a board that seems to be at odds with one another and what this may mean to the citizens of our state is up for debate.
Donald Bailey seems to be at the center of the controversy. Bailey, a member of the board and a retired Michigan State Police sergeant who used to work in drug enforcement has been very clear on his stance that dispensaries that are currently operating are in violation of the law. Bailey captured national attention when he made a motion to shut down dispensaries in August and has publicly stated that LARA has not been tough enough in enforcement on the issue. Bailey was quoted in the Detroit Free Press as saying, “The law is pretty clear. “I apologize to those who don’t understand where I’m coming from, but I cannot be moved and I won’t be. This is a violation. “The words of Bailey are not necessarily shared by other members of the board as was apparent at the meeting.
Board Chairman Rick Johnson seemed to stand in opposition of the sentiments conveyed by Bailey. While Johnson and Bailey has been portrayed to share the same political beliefs, Johnson and fellow board member Nichole Cover took a different approach. “We are not enforcers; we are not regulators,” Cover said. “We’re all trying to navigate the lay of the land.”
In addition to the commentary stated by Cover, Johnson withdrew his support of Bailey is shutting down the dispensaries and stated how that is an issue for law enforcement and not the board.
The meeting has left many to wonder what the next move will be. One medical marijuana patient whom was scared to provide her name provided commentary for this piece. The patient said, “What am I supposed to do? What the board may not realize is that if they shut down the dispensaries we will have no choice but to turn to the Black Market. I am terrified right now.”
Another party, Tim Coleman that is a fan of shutting down the dispensaries took a different approach. Coleman stated, “I see police officers taking down license plates. Pot is bad and is clearly a gateway. We do not need these people in our state.”
Matthew McManus, a partner at the law firm of Ann Arbor Legal weighed in on the matter. McManus was quoted as saying, “We are in a murky area of the law. I understand the concern that the law could evolve into recreational use and that is a major fear for the conservative sect but we all need to have an understanding that there is a Contract Clause issue at place as well. It will be interesting to see the power of the 10thAmendment at work. I know where I stand on the issue and my clients will be prepared but there is a danger that is looming.”
Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates also provided commentary. Grabel stated, “It’s time to prepare for December. It will be easier to protect a party before the danger hits. If we are not at the top of our game with the proposition of first-time enforcement in place, there is no telling what can happen. We should prepare to take action now and that is something that I have educated our firm’s clients’ on. There is too much at risk not to be prepared.”
The cannabis industry is in a transition period. With uncertainty on the board along with a lack of foundation on the law, the danger of prosecution is looming large. While it is subjective as to whom is right and wrong, the objective base indicates that changes are going to happen quickly.
William Amadeo is a partner at Ann Arbor Legal and an Associate Attorney at Grabel and Associates. Amadeo is also a contributing writer for “The Chronicle News” along with owning and operating BAT Tutoring, a bar exam preparation company for law students. Amadeo can be reached at: Williamamadeo@Grabellaw.com.