+ProPlayer420 Posted July 14, 2011 Report Share Posted July 14, 2011 Comparing the explosion of medical marijuana use in Michigan to the "wild, wild West," a coalition of police, prosecutors and Republican legislators called Tuesday for broad new rules on how the drug can be obtained and sold or even banned. Attorney General Bill Schuette said the medical marijuana law approved by voters in 2008 has been exploited by drug abusers who feign serious illness and criminals operating pot farms and drug houses disguised as dispensaries. "Everybody knows what's going on," he said. "We've got a serious problem here." Nearly 81,000 Michiganders have registered as medical marijuana patients, and an industry of doctors, growers and equipment retailers has blossomed to fill their needs. Schuette also issued a formal interpretation of the law Tuesday that would require licensed caregivers -- authorized to grow up to 12 plants for each of five patients -- to build a separate locked and enclosed facility for each set of plants. Advocates for medical marijuana countered that the most serious problems with the law stem from overzealous and hyper-technical enforcement. "This law was intended to get medical marijuana patients off the battlefield in the drug war," said Southfield attorney Michael Komorn. GOP lawmakers promise to work through summer on pot regulation LANSING -- A group of Republican state lawmakers announced plans Tuesday to work through the summer on sweeping new regulation of medical marijuana to crack down on what they said was widespread abuse and to remedy rampant confusion about what conduct the law permits. State Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and chief sponsor of the proposed legislation, said the new rules are not aimed at nullifying the 2008 medical marijuana referendum approved by voters, but to provide clear guidelines for law enforcement and legitimate medical marijuana patients. Included in an eight-bill package are proposals to: • More closely monitor and regulate the relationship between doctors and the patients to whom they issue medical marijuana certificates. The Free Press reported in April that only 55 doctors had authorized marijuana use for 71% of all patients. • Prohibit patient-to-patient marijuana transactions, effectively shutting down the marijuana collectives and dispensaries that have proliferated in some areas of the state. • Give law enforcement instant access to the patient registry maintained by the state-run Michigan Medical Marihuana Program. • Clarify the zoning authority of communities seeking to restrict use and sale of medical marijuana. Because the medical marijuana law was approved by voters, many of the changes would require approval by three-fourths of both the state House and Senate. Backers of the law, which passed with nearly 63% of the vote in 2008, expressed serious reservations about the initiatives, announced in conjunction with the issuance of a formal opinion from Attorney General Bill Schuette that narrowly construes the manner in which marijuana can be legally grown. Steven Greene, an Oakland County resident and host of a weekly radio show on medical marijuana on WDTW-AM (1310), said he was deeply suspicious of Schuette and local law enforcement officials who he said are using what they claim are vagaries in the law to quash legal activity. "This is not about public safety ... or drug interdiction," Greene said. "The police don't have a huge problem with the use of pot. This is about money." Schuette, who headed the campaign to oppose the referendum in 2008, said communities and law enforcement authorities need more power and clarity in the law to deal with marijuana patients who are not truly sick and criminals who are using the current law to avoid prosecution. But Karen O'Keefe of the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, which drafted the Michigan initiative, said the opinion Schuette issued Tuesday shows that the claims about vagaries in the law are often used as a smoke screen for a crackdown on legitimate medical use of the drug. Schuette's opinion declares that a caregiver authorized under the law to maintain up to 12 marijuana plants for each of up to five registered patients is required to keep each set of plants in a separate enclosed and locked facility. O'Keefe said that argument is "absurd ... given the plain language" of the 2008 initiative, and wouldn't provide greater public safety while making marijuana much more expensive for patients and caregivers. In any event, she said, the issue will ultimately be resolved in court, where conflicting rulings are under state Court of Appeals review. O'Keefe said some additional regulation could be helpful, especially in the operation of dispensaries. Various issues addressed by the proposed legislation -- and other medical marijuana bills under review in both chambers -- are also before the courts, including two cases approved for argument before the Michigan Supreme Court last week. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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