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Legislature Needs To Clarify Michigan's Medical Marijuana Law, Not Make It Stricter


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Michigan voters couldn’t have been more clear about their intentions when they approved theMedical Marihuana Act by an overwhelming margin in 2008. They wanted to make marijuana legally available to people with chronic illnesses. Unfortunately, the law itself could hardly have been more vague. Its hazy language has created a legal mess that we’ll be sorting out in the courts for the next couple of decades - unless either the Legislature or medical marijuana advocates themselves step in to provide much-needed clarity.

 

 

 

031812_marijuana2-thumb-375x240-105998.jpgThe OM of Medicine at 112 S. Main St. in downtown Ann Arbor is among a number of local medical marijuana dispensaries.

 

Ryan Stanton | AnnArbor.com

 

Lawmakers currently are taking a crack at amending the law, and we’re underwhelmed by the attempt. Like too much of the approach we’re seen so far, the reform measures seem driven more by an overzealous effort to restrict the availability of medical marijuana, rather than a sincere attempt to carry out the will of the people.

 

The reforms currently before the Legislature are primarily aimed at tightening the regulations on the cards required to purchase medical marijuana and how they are obtained - prohibiting, for instance, the practice of physicians certifying patients whom they haven’t seen in person.

 

While the current system for getting a medical marijuana card is admittedly loose, we don’t see tightening it as a legislative priority. The intent of the law was never to impose a restrictive approval process. If the Legislature is going to tackle this law, it should focus instead on the legal chaos that currently surrounds the question of “dispensaries’’ that distribute medical marijuana.

 

Unfortunately, the Medical Marijuana Act offers no guidance on the issue. It authorizes the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes, but it is built around the concept that the patient grows his or her own marijuana, or receives it from a “caregiver,’’ a grower who is allowed to supply up to five patients. In the real world, that ideal notion has not proven to be particularly workable. Many patients either can’t or don’t want to grow marijuana, and it’s often hard for them to find someone who’s willing to cultivate it for them. As a result, they turn to dispensaries, which quickly began to sprout up across Michigan, particularly in communities like Ann Arbor, which long has had a lenient attitude toward marijuana and strongly supports the concept of medical marijuana.

 

A dispensary is a facility that often resembles a storefront operation and that distributes medical marijuana. The Medical Marihuana Act says nothing about dispensaries; nor does it adequately define what compensation someone may take for providing medical marijuana to a patient. The result has been a hodge-podge of local ordinances, raids by law enforcement officials who don’t recognize the legality of dispensaries, and years of litigation to come.

 

For the medical marijuana law to be carried out in the way voters intended, dispensaries should be explicitly allowed. We’re convinced the public supports the concept. What we need right now - and clearly lack - is a legal basis statewide for dispensaries to exist and be regulated in a reasonable, consistent manner. On the local level, Ann Arbor has demonstrated how this can be done. City Council, working with local medical marijuana advocates, crafted a workable ordinance that seemed to satisfy everyone’s concerns.

 

Ideally, we’d like to see advocates work with lawmakers on the state level to develop a coherent policy for dispensaries, much as was done here in Ann Arbor. But we’re not optimistic that the Legislature could deliver anything like that in an election year, particularly given the prohibitive mindset that seems to prevail in Lansing.

 

In the four years since voters adopted the law, the problems created by its silence on the dispensary issue and by its vague wording in other areas have become readily apparent. Perhaps it is time for advocates of medical marijuana to bring forward another ballot proposal that offers the clarity that their original effort lacked. We don’t underestimate the amount of work that would be involved in that, but we also are confident that voters would welcome such a measure and approve it with the same broad support they showed in 2008.

 

The alternative, we fear, will either be inadequate, restrictive legislation or a prolonged period of legal wrangling in the courts. It shouldn’t be that complicated. The citizens of Michigan knew what they were voting for, and they heartily endorsed it. It’s unfortunate to see this populist effort sucked into a legal quagmire that advocates may have to sort out themselves if they want their original intent to be honored.

 

(In this reader poll conducted earlier this month on AnnArbor.com, nearly 80 percent of those who responded showed support for the concept of dispensaries.)

 

 

 

http://www.annarbor.com/news/opinion/legislature-needs-to-clarify-medical-marijuana-law-not-make-it-stricter/

 

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The first priority needs to be protection for patients, as was the intention of the act and the reason for it's creation in the first place. Caregivers who are operating in compliance with the act also need the protection spelled out clearly in the act so they can provide for patients at a fair cost.

Until that part is taken care of, I don't give a rats asp about dispensaries. Yes patients need access to medication, but to most patients obtaining medication at dispensary prices creates a hardship they can't live with. I am not against dispensaries at all, but the issue is trivial compared to what patients are being subjected to by the courts, law enforcement and the "attorney general".

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the protection spelled out clearly

well i don't see how much clearer they can spell it out

i think the Law say's you can't be arrested if you have a card and if you don't have a card then you have to have your rec and 21 days it also acts as your card and 12 plants and 2.5 oz lock up the plants seams clear enough

to me

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If they got the cards out in 20 days or less.Patients would have access to meds and genetics by patients and caregivers already growing.But the reality is a 6 or 7 month wait or longer for the state to get the cards out.Which leaves patients and caregivers in limbo.Implement the law as is and put the panel together to start adding conditions.If the powers that be thought about it they would realize they would generate huge amounts of revenue from the $10.00 change of caregiver form while patients and caregivers help each other.

Edit The ultimate incentive for the state to get cards out faster.

Edited by rambozo420
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and to be honest, dispensaries are not the only answer as noted. I talk to folks every week around me locally that are just hard pressed to keep up with the cost of living and meds. I have one local im helping to get setup and get his own grow going. He has Limes Disease, and its tore him up something fierce. Hes on disability and the cost around the local area is still stiff.

 

but this is an all to common story, even with dispensaries, farmers markets, CGs and good Self Growing Patients. Especially in light of Mr Shuettes opine.

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The surprisngly good thing about this article is that he is saying he doesn't want anything changed, that the dispensaries should just have their own law if they want one... which is what we've been saying all along. It's shocking coming from the Ann Arbor News, which has a long history of being openly hostile to mj in all its forms.

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it's just sad that the people that do have to grow don't know the risk of growing if they get caught but i still believe that if you have meds in your house and have a card or paper work you will be OK but growing is a hole lot different

Bob why would someone have to worry about growing their own plants?I would hope that as long as You stay within the limits there should be no problem.My experience has been its the cheapest way for me to stay in meds.

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Bob why would someone have to worry about growing their own plants?I would hope that as long as You stay within the limits there should be no problem.My experience has been its the cheapest way for me to stay in meds.

 

well some are growing their plants like we were and we were under plant count and we had them locked up and we were legal all the way

i agree it's cheaper for sure but not if you get raided and in up in court for over 3 years

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I agree, we need to save our laws, but we also don't want anyone else writing dispensary laws either. It is our responsibility to write these laws or we are going to end up with a version of a dispensary that we may not agree with.

 

We must remember that this war is being fought on many other fronts. We just can not allow a greedy group of people (and you know who they are) to twist the laws in their favor. The dispensary laws must be written by us in order to protect the patients and caregivers. Just my opinion.

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well some are growing their plants like we were and we were under plant count and we had them locked up and we were legal all the way

i agree it's cheaper for sure but not if you get raided and in up in court for over 3 years

I feel bad for You and everyone else that has had to endure the unjustice system.But if the law had been implemented as written none of You would have had to go through it in the first place.

Edited by rambozo420
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All the propaganda needs to stop while we fight these changes. These happy save the dispensary pieces have been running for two years and offer the legislature the opportunity to rape us. Let us Save our law and we'll fight for dispensaries. Our law stands on it's own. Leave it alone EVERYONE! Thanks, Bb

 

 

Amen brother.

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patients rights, first, foremost, and the issue. Is all that needs to transpire. Is political prowess good enough reason to destroy already sick people.... Maybe full decriminalaztion is the answer. This is America... Any Governor that allows his staff to harm sick people to prove a point needs to be voted out...Attorneys and all of the professional may want to follow laws as written and have real "consequences for the non-compliance issues that exist now for themselves...Up Hold Michigan Laws and Serve the People ,,,Right????

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patients rights, first, foremost, and the issue. Is all that needs to transpire. Is political prowess good enough reason to destroy already sick people.... Maybe full decriminalaztion is the answer. This is America... Any Governor that allows his staff to harm sick people to prove a point needs to be voted out...Attorneys and all of the professional may want to follow laws as written and have real "consequences for the non-compliance issues that exist now for themselves...Up Hold Michigan Laws and Serve the People ,,,Right????

 

These people can live with themselves, no trouble sleeping at night, not one problem looking in the mirror, must have absolute control over the people "they serve" - how sad, but true. they have stone cold hearts and are probably incapable of loving anyone.

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These people can live with themselves, no trouble sleeping at night, not one problem looking in the mirror, must have absolute control over the people "they serve" - how sad, but true. they have stone cold hearts and are probably incapable of loving anyone.

 

Sad but true... you must be a sociopath to get to positions of such power.

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