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Bill Schuette Propaganda Machine Begins...

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Eaton County Sheriff Mike Raines worries medical marijuana growing sites will spur violence in his community.


He says thieves are hijacking the drugs and some growers are arming themselves in self-defense.


Clinton County Sheriff Wayne Kangas says he's alarmed at the sharp rise in young people his officers are arresting for marijuana possession.


Both sheriffs believe the state's medical marijuana law is a poorly drafted mess that has led to a rise in illegal growing operations and illegal marijuana use. But they say a package of eight bills lawmakers will introduce this fall will close loopholes in the 2008 ballot measure and create laws that police can enforce.


"The law has been hijacked by drug dealers who want to make money, line their pockets and make a huge profit," Attorney General Bill Schuette said. "This law has as many holes as Swiss cheese. It's out of control and we need to fix it."


Surrounded by police, prosecutors and lawmakers, Schuette unveiled a package of bills he is supporting that bans felons from supplying medical marijuana patients with the drug, makes it a crime for doctors to falsely certify a patient, requires photos on medical marijuana cards and allows communities to specifically zone for medical marijuana dispensaries.


Police and prosecutors have complained about ambiguities since the law was enacted in 2009 after voters approved it in 2008.


Communities, including Lansing, have struggled with how to regulate and zone the medical marijuana dispensaries that have sprouted during the past two years.


"We don't have a photo on the medical marijuana card, so we're off to the races from the start," said Saginaw County Prosecutor Mike Thomas. "Is this card legitimate?"


But medical marijuana advocates have been leery of any proposed changes to the law, saying it is merely an attempt to make it harder for them to acquire medical marijuana and would violate their civil rights.


"I can guarantee that none of the people at that press conference voted for this law in 2008," said Rick Thompson, editor of the Oak Park-based Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine. "To open the law to legislative tinkering with the current composition of the Legislature simply is unadvisable because they don't represent the true feelings of Michigan's citizens."


Before the medical marijuana law was enacted, Kangas said his department would arrest perhaps 110 people a year for marijuana possession.


Now, he said, his department is arresting about 150 annually. Very few have medical marijuana cards.


Having medical marijuana dispensaries in many areas sends the wrong message to young people, he said.


"It's made it so much more available," Kangas said. "There is a perception that it's OK."


The Detroit Free Press contributed to this report.

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