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Michigan Medical Marihuana Act

On July 31st the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an opinion involving the “medical marihuana” ordinance adopted by the City of Wyoming in 2010. The amendment prohibited any use in the city that was contrary to federal law. The effect of the amendment was to prohibit the use of medical marihuana in its entirety within the city because federal law prohibits the use of marihuana. Wyoming was not alone in this response to the adoption of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (“MMA”); a number of communities on the eastern side of the state took the same approach.


The Kent County Circuit Court had earlier found that federal law preempted the MMA, and the plaintiff appealed to the Court of Appeals. In its analysis the Court of Appeals concluded that the Wyoming amendment was, in fact, preempted by the MMA because it prohibited what the state law allows. It also concluded that the MMA was not preempted by federal law because in the event of a conflict between the two, the federal government would not be stopped from enforcing its laws. It is unknown at this time if Wyoming will pursue an appeal of the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court. 

On balance communities should refrain from reading the Court of Appeals’ opinion too broadly. At several points in the opinion the court emphasized that the Wyoming ordinance was preempted to the extent it prohibits conduct otherwise permitted by the MMA. Similarly, a footnote in the opinion states that “this is not a case where zoning laws are enacted to regulate which areas of the city the medical use of marijuana as permitted by the MMA may be carried out.”  

Many communities have prohibited medical marihuana dispensaries, but not the use of medical marihuana altogether. It is important to emphasize in this regard that dispensaries are not mentioned in the MMA and the state has consistently taken the position that dispensaries are not authorized by the MMA. If that is correct, the Court of Appeals decision should not prevent a community from prohibiting dispensaries. Even as to medical marijuana use permitted by the MMA, the court recognizes that this case does not address the application of zoning regulations as to location.     
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