Medical marijuana caregiver, patient enrollment declines in 2013

The number of Michigan medical marijuana caregivers in 2013 compared to the year before has dropped by nearly half — and people in the medical marijuana community say this is due to intimidation by law enforcement.

The statistics come from the annual report generated by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

The report covers activities from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30 of each year.

“That is a huge drop,” said Rick Thompson, spokesman with Michigan Americans for Safe Access, said of the decrease from 50,188 caregivers in 2012 to 27,046 in 2013.

“People in the community believe it is the natural result of intimidation by police and prosecutors.”

In Oakland County, 4,425 caregiver licenses were issued in 2012. In 2013, that number dropped to 2,231.

Paul Walton, Oakland County chief assistant prosecutor, said the drop is reflective of court decisions.

“(Law enforcement and prosecutors) getting opinions from the Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court confirming what is clearly written in the legislation — that it has to be for a legitimate medical use and you have to be linked to your caregiver and your caregiver can only have five patients and limited amounts of plants and/or marijuana — is the difference-maker.”