High Numbers: Metro Detroit Has 34,000+ Legal Pot Smokers

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More than 34,100 weed users in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties have stake permission to light up anytime they want.

Toss in medical marijuana smokers in nearby Monroe, Livingston and Washtenaw and the number exceeds 42,600, more than one-third of the statewide total – though a fresh court ruling says they and others can't rely on walk-in pot shops.

Program enrollment figures for all 83 counties come from a report to legislators by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, required by the voter-approved Michigan Medical Marjiuana Act of 2008. It shows 124,131 patients overall, including 44 under 18. Twenty-six of those minors are in Metro Detroit and the other three counties. 

Inhaling cannabis smoke, or using dried leaves in food or creams, helps them cope with pain, muscle spasms, cancer, nausea and other "debilitating medical conditions" certified by a doctor.

Medical Pot Dispensary In Seattle
The tricounty Detroit area's 13,482 weed providers include retail dispensaries that are now illegal.

Card-carriers have been supplied by 50,188 caregivers and dispensaries, including nearly 17,000 in the six Southeast Michigan counties named above – numbers that will shrink. An estimated 100 dispensaries have to shut, according to Bill Laitner of the Detroit Free Press.

Supreme Court justices ruled in Lansing that patients with permits from the Bureau of Health Care Services must grow their own pot or buy it from a state-licensed caregiver, such as a therapist or other treatment specialist. Dispensing shops and patient-to-patient sales or gifts are illegal, the 4-1 decision says.

Any that stay open can be shut by county prosecutors as a public nuisance, Jonathan Oosting reports at MLive. He quotes Atty. Gen. Bill Schuette:

"This law is narrowly focused to help the seriously ill, not an open door to unrestricted retail marijuana sales. Dispensaries will have to close their doors. Sales or transfers between patients or between caregivers and patients other than their own are not permitted under the Medical Marijuana Act."

Patients pay $100 to apply for and renew a two-year medical marijuana ID. The fee drops to $25 for those getting Medicaid, Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Seventeen other states and the District of Columbia also allow marijuana sales and use for medicinal purposes. Only Connecticut and Delaware band users under 18.

Here's how many neighbors ease anxiety and discomfort with pot and the number of licensed local caregivers serving them before Friday's court ruling:

Chart

 -- Alan Stamm

Earlier coverage

Supreme Court Harshes Mellow of Pot Dispensaries, Feb. 8

Green Stuff: Medical Marijuana Is a Growth Industry for the State Treasury, Feb. 6

Kids Going to Pot: 44 Younger Than 18 Have Marihuana Cards in MI, May 29

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