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The Mmma’s -operation We Didn’t Vote For This


Michael Komorn

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THE MICHIGAN MEDICAL MARIJUANA ASSOCIATION

http://michiganmedicalmarijuana.org

 

Fighting For Patients’ and Caregivers’ Rights’ Since 2008

President Michael Komorn

Interim Executive Director Chad Carr

 

 

THE MMMA’S

OPERATION WE DIDN’T VOTE FOR THIS

 

June 6, 2012

 

Regarding: Walsh Bills (HB 4834, 4851, 4853, 4856),

 

Dear Medical Cannabis Community,

 

The above referenced bills were adopted by the House Judiciary Committee, and then passed by the House of Representatives by 75% vote with both Democrats and Republicans joining in support. They are now before the Senate, and await the same process before a final vote on the Senate floor.

 

Operation We Didn't Vote For This: our objective is a full scale, grass roots, community response to this specific package of bills. It is aimed at reaching the House Democrats and Republicans that have overlooked the medical cannabis community, and for the Democrats and Republicans of the Senate who have the final vote to pass this bill. Before the Senate votes on this bill they need to hear the voice of this community's opposition in large numbers.

 

Please join us in making a difference by contacting the Representatives and Senators listed below via phone, email, letter, and visiting them in person. Especially encouraged is a face-to-face meeting at every coffee hour scheduled by your Representative and Senator. Each one of them has the power to stop these bills from advancing. We have provided a form letter addressing the bills directly, but please feel free to write your own using the talking points provided. We would encourage those involved to forward the suggested letters as well as the responses and experiences they receive from their interactions.

 

Please let your voice be heard by:

 

Cutting and pasting the letter below (or your own) into an email, and then sending it to each of the email addresses listed below or printing the letter and mailing it via US mail. And most importantly call, call, call these government employees (see telephone numbers listed below) and explain to them why the bills are unacceptable.

 

The bills that have advanced, intending to amend the MMMA, fail to address the real concerns of patients and caregivers, and not one of the medical cannabis organizations in Michigan has supported any of the bills. In light of People v. Koon, HB 4834 subjects every patient who drives to liability, and this is not acceptable. 140,000 patients were promised that their registry status would be kept private, and now four years into the program, we have learned that we have been lied to.

 

Up to this point our community has lacked leverage in the process, and we have been subject to a political and judicial circus act. The ruling by the Supreme Court this past week, in People v. King and People v. Kolanek, expressly reaffirmed what many in our community have known all along: the unregistered patient is protected under section 8 of the MMMA. For the first time, a recognized right to be protected under the MMMA has been codified, giving patients the choice to not register, and still have a defense under the Act. It is without question that the premise of all the bills was based upon a faulty interpretation of the Act. It is now obvious that the passing of these bills failed to consider the unregistered patient protection, amongst other things, and the choice that now exists provides a chance for this community to act strategically.

 

I am certain that the People who passed these bills never considered being asked the following question: "If you Mrs. Legislator were advising your loved one suffering from a debilitating condition and they chose to treat their condition with cannabis, would they be more protected if they registered or kept their medical information private?"

 

I would like to believe that in what seems like an attempt to control the registry through law enforcement access, the most direct way to oppose this bill is the threat of the registry program being abandoned. Join me and the MMMA in letting the Legislature know that their failure to implement the voters' initiative as intended by the people of the state of Michigan, has caused our community to take pause and consider these options. They need to know we have legitimate legal options, and their behavior cannot be tolerated any more.

 

Below is a list of talking point to utilize in your calls, conversations, letters, and meetings as you go forward and interact with the Legislature. Many would have bet against the medical marijuana community when 18 bills were introduced by a Republican-dominated Legislature in June of 2011, but to date, more than one year later, the MMMA of 2008 remains unchanged. This is due to the hard work of our grass roots lobby and its dedicated advocates like you.

 

We are on our last lap, and need to finish strong. Please let your voice be heard, and let this government understand that they cannot get away with treating its citizens this way.

 

 

 

 

***************************************************************************

 

 

I am writing today to let you know that the medical cannabis community still remains firmly opposed to the package of bills recently passed by the House and now waiting for review by the Senate Judiciary committee, HB 4834, 4851, 4853, and 4856. My position on the bills remains unchanged by amendments that were made from the House floor prior to passage.

 

While you may have heard representatives comment before the House vote that the bills were supported by patient groups, no approval was asked for, nor granted. All of the patient groups still oppose the package, and in light of the recently published Supreme Court decisions in King and Kolanek, they are seen as unnecessary legislation. They do not bring clarity to the Act, but instead, reduce the protections that the voters intended when they voted 63% in favor of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. These bills will implement new technical violations for patients and their caregivers, and are clearly against the intent of the electorate.

 

The Michigan Supreme Court has recently reaffirmed the rights of registered and unregistered medical marijuana patients and caregivers to a defense in court. In light of that decision a patient now has more privacy of their medical records than they would by registering in a database that is to be shared with law enforcement. Michigan’s Attorney General has shown a willingness since entering office to disregard the wishes of Michigan voters and make private medical information in the registry available to law enforcement despite the protections expressed in within the Act. When abuses of this new, invasive police power happen, we must have an organization in place to investigate, prosecute and punish any offenders.

 

Participating in the medical marijuana registry program is intended to guarantee protection against arrest and prosecution. HB 4834 increases the risk of arrest by making private medical information available to law enforcement officers in a way that offers no remedy for inevitable abuses. Please vote NO on HB 4834, 4851, 4853, and 4856.

 

The thought that not registering would afford me more protection than registering seems absurd, and yet, that is what will happen if these bills pass according to the rulings of the Michigan Supreme Court. I would have never given my private medical information to the state if I knew it would be shared with any non-medical part of the government, including law enforcement.

 

***************************************************************************

THE MMMA’S

OPERATION WE DIDN’T VOTE FOR THIS

 

Talking points for conversations with the Legislature:

 

Operation We Didn't Vote For This - Talking Points

 

1. The privacy protection in the Act, section 6 (h) cannot be reconciled with

the HB 4834:

 

333.26426 Administration and enforcement of rules by department.

6. Administering the Department's Rules.

 

(h) The following confidentiality rules shall apply:

 

(2) The department shall maintain a confidential list of the persons to whom the department has

issued registry identification cards. Individual names and other identifying information on the

list is confidential and is exempt from disclosure under the freedom of information act, 1976 PA

442, MCL 15.231 to 15.246.

(3) THE DEPARTMENT SHALL NOT ALLOW ANY PERSON ACCESS TO ANY

INFORMATION ABOUT PATIENTS IN THE DEPARTMENT'S CONFIDENTIAL LIST OF

PERSONS TO WHOM THE DEPARTMENT HAS ISSUED REGISTRY IDENTIFICATION

CARDS OR FROM WHOM THE DEPARTMENT HAS RECEIVED AN APPLICATION OR TO

INFORMATION OTHERWISE MAINTAINED BY THE DEPARTMENT CONCERNING

PHYSICIANS WHO PROVIDE WRITTEN CERTIFICATION AND PRIMARY

CAREGIVERS, EXCEPT FOR THE FOLLOWING:

(A) AUTHORIZED EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENT OR OF A

SUBCONTRACTOR UNDER SUBSECTION (J) IN THE COURSE OF THEIR OFFICIAL

DUTIES.

(B) STATE OR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS OR OFFICIALS, BUT

ONLY IF EITHER OF THE FOLLOWING APPLIES:

(i) THE OFFICER OR OFFICIAL PROVIDES A REGISTRY IDENTIFICATION

NUMBER, THE OFFICER OR OFFICIAL IS ACTING IN THE COURSE OF HIS OR

HER OFFICIAL DUTIES, AND THE DEPARTMENT DOES NOT ALLOW ACCESS TO

MORE INFORMATION THAN IS REASONABLY NECESSARY TO VERIFY THE

AUTHENTICITY OF THE REGISTRY IDENTIFICATION CARD.

(ii) THE OFFICER OR OFFICIAL PROVIDES A NAME AND A DATE OF

BIRTH FOR AN INDIVIDUAL OR AN ADDRESS; THE OFFICER OR OFFICIAL HAS

PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE A VIOLATION OF LAW THAT INVOLVES THE

POSSESSION, USE, TRANSFER, OR TRANSPORTATION OF MARIHUANA HAS

OCCURRED; AND THE DEPARTMENT DOES NOT ALLOW ACCESS TO MORE

INFORMATION THAN IS REASONABLY NECESSARY TO VERIFY THAT THE

INDIVIDUAL OR AN INDIVIDUAL AT THE SPECIFIED ADDRESS HAS A VALID

REGISTRY IDENTIFICATION CARD. THE DEPARTMENT SHALL ALLOW ACCESS TO

INFORMATION UNDER THIS SUB-SUBPARAGRAPH THROUGH THE LAW ENFORCEMENT

INFORMATION NETWORK. THIS SUB-SUBPARAGRAPH DOES NOT REQUIRE THE

OFFICER OR OFFICIAL TO OBTAIN A SEARCH WARRANT TO OBTAIN ACCESS TO

THE REGISTRY INFORMATION.

 

(4) A person, including an employee, CONTRACTOR, or official

of the department or another state agency or local unit of government, who discloses confidential information in violation of this act ACCESSES, USES, OR DISCLOSES NONPUBLIC INFORMATION GOVERNED UNDER THIS ACT FOR PERSONAL USE OR GAIN OR IN A MANNER THAT IS NOT AUTHORIZED BY LAW is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or a fine of not more than $1, 000.00, or both. Notwithstanding this provision, department employees may notify law enforcement about falsified or fraudulent information submitted to the department.

 

The act provides protections and penalties for the release of confidential information, for the reason that abuses were anticipated.

 

The Bill fails to provide for any real remedies to patients and caregivers if law enforcement violates the probable cause requirements set out in HB 4834.

 

The Bill fails to protect the registry from overzealous or abusive law enforcement.

 

The Bill fails to provide a mechanism to investigate these violations, and more importantly, a procedure for prosecuting them. We do not believe the

Attorney General will fulfill his obligation on these matters.

 

Before the Supreme Court ruled that the unregistered patient is a protected right under the Act, many did not believe that the law provided for it.

 

Since the Supreme Court has ruled that unregistered patients are protected, each patient will have to consider whether they are safer by obtaining a doctor's certification and keeping their medical information private, or by registering in a database that is to be shared with law enforcement.

 

One of the purported goals of these bills is to protect patients, yet there is not one patient group that supports them.

 

The Legislature had the opportunity to clarify the law but instead created a serious concern for all patients and caregivers that ultimately could unravel the registry program, bringing more chaos to both the law enforcement and medical cannabis community.

 

After 4 years not one penny of the 15 million dollars brought in by the registry program has been used to educate the law enforcement community about medical cannabis.

 

Law enforcement still views medical cannabis as a public safety issue instead of a public health issue as the voters intended.

 

Expanded law enforcement access to the registry without proper education of its officers creates an unreasonable expectation on law enforcement.

 

In its public testimony at the House Judiciary Committee on the same bill, the

Michigan State Police could not articulate a reason for expanded access to the registry.

 

It seems that expanding law enforcement access to the registry will increase patient arrests rather than decreasing arrests as claimed, and as desired by 63% of Michigan voters.

 

****************************************************************************

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