The Michigan Appellate Court ruling making the sale of medical marijuana illegal in the state has sent shock waves through the cannabis community, causing many dispensaries to close their doors and throwing thousands of patients into confusion and desperation.

As you can imagine, this has sparked reaction from patients and advocates alike. Kris Hermes, Media Specialist for Americans for Safe Access, lit in to the decision. “The recent appellate court decision restricting the operation of dispensaries is deplorable,” Kris told us. “With statistics that show a majority of patients rely on local distribution facilities for their medicine, the state has shown not only a lack of compassion but also a lack of foresight. This kind of legal prohibition will invariably push patients into the illicit market, thereby increasing the risk of harm for our most vulnerable and directly contradicting the efforts of law enforcement.

“We must look to local officials standing up for the rights of patients to safely and legally obtain their medication. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero blasted the appellate court ruling today, calling it ‘a terrible setback’ and ‘ridiculous law,’ claiming that the judges ‘subverted the will of the people rather than facilitated it.’ Bernero also said the decision was ‘A victory for the War-on-drugs approach which will help keep marijuana sales in the neighborhoods and back alleys.’ The way forward is simple, said Berero, ‘our state lawmakers need to step up to the plate and write a law that is clear and concise and that respects the will of the people of Michigan as expressed in their overwhelming support for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.’

“This decision notably undermines several localities that have adopted ordinances regulating the distribution of medical marijuana, including Ann Arbor, Lansing, Traverse City and Ypsilanti. Advocates are currently working to develop a response. The tens of thousands of Michigan patients who rely on local distribution will not stand idly by while their rights are taken away. Whether through the courts, the legislature or by referendum, patients will seek a remedy to gain safe and legal access to medical marijuana.”

ASA also sent out an email alert to their supporters which read in part, “The ruling in Michigan says exchange of medicine for money is not legal under Michigan’s law, even among patients. This means that patients must grow their own cannabis in order to legally obtain the medicine that gives them relief. Sick and dying patients often do not have the energy or resources to grow their own medicine, forcing them to use the black market and risk arrest.”

It is imperative that the forces of cannabis freedom rally to the side of patients in Michigan. One of the most populated medical marijuana states in the country, Michigan also had one of the most extensive dispensary systems – certainly the most extensive east of the Mississippi River. It cannot be allowed to perish.

This dispensary ban not only harms patients in Michigan – and the state’s economy as well – but patients all across the country as the forces arrayed against medical marijuana will feel emboldened to strip more access from patients in their state.

Joe Klare