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Senators Consider Stone Soup Legislation


Compassion Chronicles

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Titles do not match descriptions, 11 proposed changes in one bill; Legislative “Swiss cheese” needs evaluation, not speedy vote

 

By Rick Thompson

 

 

Word is circulating in the
and in Lansing that the Walsh package of anti-patient bills may be voted on in the Senate on Thursday, Dcember 6th during this year’s lame duck session of the legislature. These Bills addressing the
(MMA) have been so extensively modified and widely criticized that they have little clarity and even less support remaining. Enough significant questions remain to keep these bills shelved until a more organized and popular effort can be launched during next session.

The
were a package of eight
designed to “reign in” the MMMA. Introduced in June 2011, none of the bills
have ever
been passed and in the year-and-a-half since their introduction, the need for action has fizzled and died. No community groups are calling for action against marijuana patients; the opposite is true, with voters
signaling the need for relaxed marijuana laws, not increased restrictions on the sick and injured.

The Bills, now pared down to four, have been passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate Judiciary Committee. They await a vote of the Senate, and then a vote in the House affirming the Senate's changes. Any bills not approved at the end of this year are voided and must be re-introduced next year.
suggest this legislation had no chance of passing during the regular session, suggesting Republican leadership intentionally reserved their consideration until after the election. The bills could be reborn next year: Republicans will
in both the House and Senate in 2013, removing any need for end-of-year legislative expedience at the expense of social justice. The lame duck session is
and a superficial reading of bills prior to passage is common. The Walsh bills require a more extensive read to understand the complexities- there are 11 changes to the MMA proposed in the current version of HB 4851 alone.

Stone Soup Legislation

carries this official government
:

Health; medical marihuana;
photograph on medical marihuana card
; require. Amends sec. 6 of 2008 IL 1 (MCL 333.26426).

(emphasis added)

HB 4834 was introduced in June of 2011. That issue, requiring photographs on medical marijuana cards, has been dropped from the current version of HB 4834 being floated in the Senate, V-2. Senators and Representatives unfamiliar with this bill, who rely on these descriptions for guidance, will be voting for a fraud. HB 4834 has been altered so many times the content is confusing to even the most intimately involved politicos. A companion bill, HB 4851, has proposed or contained more than 15 different variations on changes to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (see chart below). Even single issues appear on different bills. Transporting live marijuana plants in a car is allowed under HB 4834, but rules regarding transporting dried useable marijuana in a car are found in HB 4856. The passage of the Walsh bills would create more of the “Swiss cheese” that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act is routinely compared to.

Single issue bills are completely possible- the Senate did it. The three Bills that have been passed by the Senate and are headed for a vote in the House- SBs 321, 505 and 933- are single-issue bills, easily read and understood. So are two of the four House bills, HB 4853 and HB 4856. Combined, the two controversial House bills 4851 and 4834 currently contain more than 30 proposed changes to the MMA.

Much of this confusion is the result of the legislative stone soup nature of the development of the Walsh Bills. It appears each bill was started as a single issue before various special interest groups each added their own flavor to the soupy package. "Special interest groups are lining up to push their agendas and collect political IOUs," says the Morning Sun. The Michigan State Police, the Michigan Township’s Authority, the Attorney General’s office, the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, all contributed pieces to the end result. This is especially apparent when evaluating the additional restrictions on patients made after both HB 4851 and 4834’s initial filing (see chart below).

And there will be no time to read these convoluted pieces of legislation: reports suggest the Senate has booked themselves an early exit from duty, bowing out as early as December 13th, whereas the House may continue to conduct business until the 20th. If true, this gives the Senate only six days in session remaining in 2012 with more pressing issues left to resolve, including the NPO status of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Right to Work, regional transportation, Emergency Managers, tax credits for fetuses, etc.

 

“Even if these issues individually merited consideration there is simply no time to give them a thorough evaluation by legislators or a reasonable period for citizen response,” said Jamie Lowell of the 3rd Coast Compassion Center. “There are no lame ducks in the Senate. Every man and woman is going to have to own their vote and be accountable to the people in January. And the people have spoken, clearly and often, on this issue.”

 

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