Disposing of the Term Dispensary

The first licensed medical marijuana “dispensaries” in metro Detroit opened their doors in the middle of 2018. More than two years later, on November 5, 2020, Pleasantrees Cannabis Company opened the first recreational/adult use retail “dispensary” south of 8 Mile in the wonderful City of Hamtramck. Well, sort of. . .


Cannabis legalization has gained traction throughout the United States with nearly a third of all Americans now living in a state that has legalized cannabis for adult use. Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 in November of 2016 by a margin of 56-44, making it the first state in the Midwest to legalize cannabis for recreational use. The resultant law is called the “Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act” or “MRTMA,” and among other things, it legalized the sale and possession of 2.5oz of cannabis and marijuana product to individuals 21 years of age or older.


As mentioned above, prior to the MRTMA, qualifying Michigan patients under the “Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act” or “MMFLA” obtained medical cannabis products by visiting the state’s many medical marijuana dispensaries, including more than 70 that were located in the City of Detroit alone. Now, many of Detroit’s medical dispensaries are working to transition to the recreational/adult use market by becoming licensed recreational dispensaries under the MRTMA. Pleasantrees’ Hamtramck recreational dispensary is an exception in that regard, as it was originally licensed under the MRTMA.


Here’s the weird thing, even as I write this, contrary to popular belief, the State of Michigan has NEVER had a an actual medical or recreational cannabis “dispensary,” not once . . . ever. Now, given what I’ve said above, you’re probably thinking I’m nuts and you should stop reading Pleasantrees’ blog posts but bear with me, I’m about to learn you something . . . .


Under the MTRMA and MMFLA, licensed cannabis companies are obligated to follow ALL applicable state laws. One such applicable law, found in the Public Health Code, states that the use of the word “dispensary,” along with other similar words like “pharmacist” and “drugstore,” is restricted to businesses licensed to use them under the Public Health Code. (MCL 333.17711). Cannabis businesses are not licensed under the Public Health Code; they are licensed under the MRTMA and/or MMFLA. You know who is licensed under the Public Health Code and can use those terms? The CVS or Walgreen’s where you go pick up antibiotics and other prescriptions, and probably some candy or Cheetos or other junk, you stoner.


For that reason, as early as June of 2019, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency was reminding licensed cannabis companies NOT to call themselves “dispensaries.” (MRA Bulletin). Of course, rules are meant to be broken I guess (not by Pleasantrees though Mr. MRA, not by Pleasantrees), and dispensary remains the most commonly used term in Michigan when referring to a licensed retail store that sells medical or recreational cannabis or marijuana (those words don’t always mean the same thing either). So, as I said before, Michigan has never had an actual medical or recreational cannabis “dispensary.” Now, you owe me $20. You remember we bet on it right?


What are we supposed to call these cannabis businesses you ask? The answer lies within the MRTMA and MMFLA. Under the MMFLA, medical marijuana stores should be referred to as Provisioning Centers. And, per the MRTMA, retail businesses in the adult use or recreational market are referred to as Recreational or Adult Use Establishments.


Wow right? You learned something new today. Good job. You deserve a reward, go smoke a doobie and celebrate – the team at Pleasantrees in Hamtramck can help! Pleasantrees’ Hamtramck Adult Use Retailer is open from 10am-10pm, 7 days a week to make your cannabis dreams come true. Come visit us at 2238 Holbrook. Bring your good vibes, but leave the word “dispensary” at home.