Pubdate: Fri, 06 Dec 2013
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2013 Detroit Free Press
Author: Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Michigan)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - U.S.)


LANSING -- A vote on a trio of bills related to Michigan's Medical
Marijuana Act probably won't happen until next year.

But that didn't stop a couple hundred people affected by the law from
cramming into three committee rooms Thursday to voice their support
and concerns about the bills during a meeting of the House Judiciary

"Our current legislation is the worst," said Stephen Postema, city
attorney for Ann Arbor. "At least take the next step and move the
Michigan law into a better place than it is now."

The bills would allow communities to determine and regulate if they
want medical marijuana dispensaries -- called provisioning centers --
to operate in their communities; it also would allow for the
manufacture and sale of other forms of marijuana, including edibles
like brownies and oils.

The bills are needed, said sponsors state Reps. Mike Callton,
R-Nashville, and Eileen Kowall, R-White Lake, because court rulings
have made dispensaries and edible forms of marijuana illegal.

"I really believe in this because there are some patients who really
need it," Callton said. "And I would rather see them get marijuana in
a place where felons are limited and the product is tested."

Communities can opt in or out of allowing dispensaries in their

"This is about local control, because it's not right for every
community," Callton said.

The edibles bill is needed because many patients, especially seriously
ill children, can't smoke the product, Kowall said.

"The law has largely been reduced to smoking and vaporizing the
marijuana," Kowall said. "But after speaking with caregivers, most
would prefer to ingest in ways other than smoking. They desperately
need alternative delivery methods."

Jim Powers of Center Line brought his toddler son, Ryan, who has
minimal change nephrosis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the
kidneys, mostly in young children. Marijuana-infused oils have helped
modulate his immune system and alleviate the symptoms of the disease.

"Out of desperation, we turned to cannabis oil, and he went into
remission, but the court of appeals ruled his medicine illegal,"
Powers said.

The third bill, which has already passed the state Senate, would amend
the public health code and classify marijuana as a Schedule 2
controlled substance; provide for the licensure and regulation of
facilities to grow and test pharmaceutical grade pot, and allow those
facilities to sell the drug to pharmacies to dispense.

Medical marijuana users would have to get an additional, enhanced
certificate from a doctor in order to be able to buy the drug from a

The legislation is contingent upon the federal government
reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule 2 controlled substance, which
would give it medical legitimacy and would allow pharmacies to
dispense it. Marijuana is now a Schedule 1 controlled substance that
the federal government still considers an illegal substance with no
medical benefit.

None of the three bills would affect a medical marijuana user or
caregiver from continuing to grow their own cannabis.

Testimony on the bills will continue in the committee on Tuesday.
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