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Medibles, Miligrams And The Michigan State Police


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LANSING- The Michigan State Police are caught in a Catch-22 of their own creation regarding medical marijuana in Michigan.

In testimony provided to committees in the Michigan House and Senate, the State Police (MSP) admitted their chemical analysis equipment cannot determine the amount of THC contained a joint, in a brownie, in anything- and that has them struggling for a reason to require THC limitations and amounts listed on labels for medical marijuana edibles and concentrates.

The MSP seems to want the labels, and so does the governor’s office, but how can you require a label that cannot be verified?

The details are being hashed out for a proposed new program for Michigan’s medical marijuana patient population. The package of bills includes regulations enabling and protecting medical marijuana distribution centers, referred to as “Provisioning Centers” in one bill, and re-legalizing the possession and use of non-smoked forms of medical marijuana for the 150,000 patients and caregivers registered with the state.

The State Police have raised many issues with the bills, including some fantastical claims that dispensary owners have to bury their money in the back yard because no banks will deal with them and the myth of criminal activity associated with distribution centers. Each issue seems to be resolving itself- proof that banks take dispensary money made that issue go away and patient testimony seems to have convinced legislators that many of the dangers expressed by MSP representatives are just not real- but one issue seems to be impossible to resolve without a change in facts or attitude.

Labeling is not itself a controversial topic. Under the proposed rules, all concentrated or edible marijuana products must be carried in a container when outside the home and that container must list what it contains- items, weight, patient information, etc.

“Last minute negotiations create confusion,” said Jamie Lowell, Chairman of the Michigan chapter of Americans for Safe Access and the managing partner at 3rd Coast Compassion Center in Ypsilanti. “That’s why these issues should have been worked out earlier- when the debates raged on in the House, for example,” he said.

These issues are being raised at the eleventh hour.  “We work grouped both bills extensively before they passed the House with overwhelming support,” Robin Schneider of the National Patients Rights Association told TCC earlier this year. 

The package passed the House by a wide margin in 2013 and sat until July before the Government Operations committee passed it on to the full Senate. The legislature goes into recess early this year due to the elections in November, and a single three-week window in September is all that remains for any legislative attention before the votes are cast.

After the election there is a session of the legislature known as the ‘Lame Duck Session,’ where vast quantities of bills are voted on without much negotiation or examination. It was a lame duck session in 2012 that generated hordes of negativity toward the Michigan legislature as House Representatives and Senators passed an unwelcome, controversial package of bills that amended the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act and associated laws at 4am.

To avoid that blunder this election year, there are two paths the governor’s office and the legislature can take.


Labels don’t have to contain a THC amount, and alternate forms of labeling have been offered and were accepted by legislators up until now. “This bill had no THC quantity requirements when it passed the House,” Lowell explained. “The approval percentage for these two bills was staggering- a first in the country.”

Law enforcement can push all they want but Lansing leaders may drop the THC label requirement. The MSP would still get to maintain that they can’t check THC quantity and they have no laboratory or procedural changes to make- a win. The legislature passes these two bills before the votes are cast in November and create a media opportunity for themselves- a win. Patients and their families get the bills they have waited so long for, and so richly deserve- a win.


If labeling details can’t be worked out, the bills could fall to the Lame Duck Session in 2014. “Few people have confidence in that scenario,” Lowell opined. “Further delays and hurried debates don’t make for good laws.”

If the executive or legislative branches insist on a THC requirement for labels, the MSP will have to admit that they misrepresented their capabilities to both the House and Senate members- a lose. The legislature may not pass the bills before the recess takes effect and the elections are held- a lose. Michigan’s ill and injured population will not get the protections they need and have waited patiently for- a big lose.

If Senate leaders insist on the THC-documented labels and the legislature get the bills passed before they retire, it could still be a lose for the party in power. If the patients feel they are being subject to overly burdensome restrictions they won’t turn their allegiance to the party of Schuette and Snyder; media reports of the bills has historically followed the emotional pitch of the patient community. When the sick like the bills, the media likes the bills. When patients complain (See Senate Bill 660) the media listens and adopts that attitude.

These bills are not the first effort to flesh out the skeletal MMMA, and they won’t be the last. If the party in power has designs on attracting votes from the medical marijuana community they should keep a four-year plan in mind; take the bills now and add additional issues like THC content later, and after a full debate in the legislature.




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