I am not a Michigan Medical Marihuana Act expert, but I think I have a clearer understanding of the law than most Michiganders. I founded the first club in the city of Detroit, and have done a number of private meetings and Q&A performances. I have spoken to people of various ages. I take a conservative view of the law, and try to steer actives towards the center, not the fringes of the law. What I find most common with all groups I have spoken with are the questions asked.
I’m asked about the “gray areas”. I see no “gray areas” in our law, only people trying to make it less or more than what it is. To help with my understanding of the law, I read the law, the wording that was actually voted upon, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) menu of possible inputs for a proposal, and what other States have picked and allowed based on the MPP menu. This extra reading was to give me a better idea of intent. In order to explain the law, it helps to know the intent.
The federal government treats cannabis as decadent to society, even though its holds a patent on some of its use. States, on the other hand, are starting to treat the cannabis as a plant with medical benefits. With this in mind, the intent of any Medical Marihuana Act is to allow patients with serious, chronic, and debilitating conditions the opportunity to try cannabis as an alternative medication, without the negative legal repercussions.
Starting with Section 3 (b) "Department" means the state department of community health. I would think that moving the program to any other department, like any other change in the law, would require a prescribed Constitutional change. In Michigan, the governor has unilaterally changed the placement of the Medical Marihuana Program from the Department of Community Health to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
© States that an "Enclosed, locked facility" means a closet, room, or other enclosed area equipped with locks or other security devices that permit access only by a registered patient or primary caregiver. I know of no one with a closet or a room in their yard, and unless one is using a locking garage or shed with restrictive access as a grow area, this would preclude outdoor grows.
(e) "Medical use" covers a lot of things. This section is saying that a registered patient can purchase, have in their custody, grow, produce, have in their system, supply, hand-over, carry, move, or transport marihuana or associated paraphernalia necessary to treat or alleviate their debilitating medical condition.
There shouldn’t be an issue understanding (h) "Qualifying patient" means a person who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition; that is if you understand that (a) "Debilitating medical condition" means 1 or more of the following: (1) Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, agitation of Alzheimer's disease, nail patella, or the treatment of these conditions. (2) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces 1 or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.
Looking at Section 8 (a)if You am arrested for having cannabis, You, as a patient may assert the medical purpose for using marihuana as a defense to any prosecution involving marihuana, and this defense shall be presumed valid where the evidence shows that: You have a physician’s professional opinion. Of course this opinion has to come by way of a full assessment of my medical history and current medical condition made in the course of a bona fide physician-patient relationship. Once You can prove You have a doctor opinion for use, You have to prove that the amount of cannabis You had was a quantity than was reasonably necessary for an uninterrupted availability to treat my serious or debilitating medical condition. Lastly, You would have to prove that the cannabis You had was for medical use. If You are able to get pass the first hurdle, the last is simple. The thing is not to carry and unreasonable amount, as a medical patient, this may be the easiest hurdle to bypass.
This Act is saying that if your doctor have given hers/his opinion that the use of cannabis might help to relief some of the effects of your medical condition, you may legally do so. How to one determine what is reasonably necessary? The federal government allows it patients 300 joints per month. If the joints are 2 grams each, we are talking 600 grams, or 21 ounces. What if I also used a topical and medibles as my normal practice, the quantity I would need may by 40 ounces each month. You need to prove how much you need, and your written opinion should state your medical reason for using cannabis.
Let me point out that there is nothing in the Act that says the opinion has to be in writing. In fact, there is nothing in the law that says a written opinion has to be on a special form, or that one has to join the registry. If you plan to register, that opinion must be in writing and it must be on the State provided form.
So now, you get arrested, pose for mug shots, pay bail, hire an attorney, and then head to court. If you can prove the above things during your evidentiary hearing, your case shall be dismissed and your property is not lost to forfeiture. darn, there has to be a better and easier why to do this. There is, it’s listed as Section 4 of the Act.
Section 4 provides built-in protections. To be covered under the law, all you need is a doctor’s opinion, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO REGISTER. Under this section you are required to register with the State. There shall be a presumption that a patient use of marihuana in accordance with this act As a registered patient you can have up to 2.5 ounces of dried usable cannabis and any mixture or preparation thereof (incidental amount of seeds, stalks, and unusable roots shall not be included in this amount), and up to 12 cannabis plants. As long as you are within these limits, you are protected from arrest and forfeiture. Be mindful that those plants are to be kept in an enclosed, locked facility.
If a patient’s use is in addition to or other than for smoking, it is likely that the amount on-hand is greater than the protected amount. They may have to show that the amount is reasonably necessary. The amount over would fall under Section 8. It would be nice if Section 4 allowed for alternative use.
Section 4 also provides protection to visiting register patients (a patient who is not a Michigan resident or who has been a resident for less than 30 days) from those States that offers protection to register Michigan patients – in other words cardholders. To date, that would include visitors from Maine, Montana, Rhode Island, and Arizona. As an incentive to do right, there is a penalty for any cardholder who sells marihuana to someone who is not allowed to use marihuana under this act. Said person shall have his or her registry identification card revoked and is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both, in addition to any other penalties for the distribution of marihuana.
I have always said that the Act allows three ways for one to acquire cannabis: grow your own, buy it off the street, have someone to acquire it for you. Section 4 allows the patient to extent some of their rights under the Act to one other person. The person to whom the rights are extended is called the caregiver. A caregiver must be at least 21-years of age, and cannot have a drug felony of their record. Each caregiver can service up to five patients. As a caregiver, one can make purchases, have in their custody, supply, and hand-over, carry, move, or transport marihuana or associated paraphernalia necessary to treat or alleviate their debilitating medical condition. The patient can even extend the right to grow to the caregiver. With this arrangement, the patient decides whether they or the caregiver will be in procession of the plant, but ownership stays with the patient. The caregiver cannot smoke, eat, or otherwise ingest the cannabis. Caregivers can only service those patients to whom he or she is connected through registration. A registered caregiver may receive compensation for costs associated with assisting a registered patient in their medical use.
Section 6 explains what information will be listed on the registration cards, and the administration thereof. This section also states that those under the age of 18 can be registered only if 2 doctors sign the forms.
Section 7 says that you cannot be under the influence while performing medical duties or other tasks that would constitute negligence or professional malpractice, nor can you operate, navigate, or physical control of any motor vehicle, aircraft, or motorboat in such a state. You cannot process or use on a school bus, on P-12 school grounds, or in any correctional facility. You cannot smoke on public transportation, in any place open for use by the public. You cannot use if we do not have a serious or debilitating medical condition. And your use will not be covered by any government medical program or commercial or non-profit health insurer. Bottom-line, the use of cannabis is restricted to private areas. As for smoking in your car, if your car is on the public roadway, it is on a public place. That leaves you to smoke at your home and property and a friend’s home and property.
Although most patients want protection of registration, the State is six months behind in its application processing. Section 9 (b) of the Act states that: If the department fails to issue a registry card within 20 days of its submission, the registry card shall be deemed granted, and a copy of the registry application shall be deemed a valid registry card. Send your forms as to receive notice of its receipt. Make copies of all the paperwork before sending. You may also want to get a copy of your cancelled check.
What were not addressed in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act are dispensaries, but they are needed as they are needed as the forth way for patients to acquire. States with medical marijuana laws passed before Michigan’s, passed with no mention of dispensaries. These States came back with addition elections or statutes that allowed for the establishment of such businesses. Most of these changes took place in 2010. Because dispensaries are not addressed, the governing of them would fall to local rules and restrictions. There are a number of localities that are doing this. The main problem I see in their efforts is that they are also trying to regulate the patients and caregivers as businesses. Patients and caregivers are addressed in the State’s Act, thus should be off limit to greater restrictions by the local legislators.