Pubdate: Fri, 13 Dec 2013
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2013 Detroit Free Press
Author: Kathleen Gray, and Paul Egan
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Michigan)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - U.S.)


LANSING -- Medical marijuana laws were eased and clarified by the
state House of Representatives today.

Two bills -- one that would let communities allow and regulate medical
marijuana dispensaries and another that would legalize
marijuana-infused products like brownies and oils -- passed the House
and now move to the Senate, which could begin considering the bills
next year.

A third bill, SB 660 which passed on an 87-22 vote, would provide for
the licensing and regulation of facilities to grow and test
pharmaceutical grade pot and allow those facilities to sell the drug
to pharmacies to dispense. The bill already passed the Senate and is
contingent upon the federal government reclassifying marijuana from an
illegal drug to a prescription drug. The Senate concurred in minor
changes to the bill tonight and it's now on to Gov. Rick Snyder for
his review and possible signature.

Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said the medical marijuana issue isn't
a priority for him, but he'll review the bills when they reach him.

The dispensary bill, HB 4271, passed on a 95-14 vote. It would allow
communities to determine and regulate if they want medical marijuana
dispensaries -- called provisioning centers -- to operate in their

"This is a historic bill that represents creating a better usage of
medical marijuana and calls for better and safer access to medical
marijuana," said state Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville. "The main
characteristic of the bill is local control of provisioning centers."

The bill also requires testing of the cannabis and limits involvement
of felons in the provisioning centers.

The so-called marijuana edibles -- nicknamed "medibals" -- bill, HB
5104, passed on a 100-9 vote. It would allow for the manufacture and
sale of other forms of marijuana, including brownies and oils. The
bill would help medical marijuana users, especially children, who have
a hard time smoking the pot.

The bills are needed, supporters said, because court rulings made
dispensaries and edible forms of marijuana illegal.

"Various interpretations of the medical marijuana law have restricted
access for patients," said state Rep. Eileen Kowall, R-White Lake
Township, sponsor of the "medibles" legislation. "This bill gives
patients the flexibility to choose a delivery method that best suits
them. This is a quality of life issue."

On the last day of the session for this year, the Legislature also
gave final approval to a bill dealing with campaign finance, that
doubles campaign contribution limits and shields the identities of
people who donate to groups that run often controversial "issue ads."

SB 661 doubles the limits for most donations to Michigan candidate
committees, bringing the limit for candidates for governor and other
statewide offices up from $3,400 to $6,800 and the limit for state
House candidates up from $500 to $1,000. These are the first major
changes to Michigan campaign finance limits since the law was passed
in 1976.

Just as the bill was taken up by a Senate committee last month,
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced she would introduce rule
changes to require public disclosure of who pays for issue ads that
have become increasingly influential in political campaigns.

The ads, often funded by nonprofit groups, typically attack candidates
over issues but don't expressly say who to vote for. Republicans
responded to Johnson's announcement by amending the bill to
specifically exclude such ads from state control.

Later, the bill was amended to require disclosure of the name of the
person or group sponsoring such ads, but that doesn't address the most
common scenario, in which generically named groups pay for the ads but
unknown donors fund the groups. The disclaimer requirement also
applies to pre-recorded telephone messages, known as

Wurfel said the governor is generally supportive of the

While the Legislature was expected to take up bills that would have
expanded state control of struggling public schools and make other
education reforms, as well as allow phone companies to phase out
traditional landline phone service beginning in 2017, the House of
Representatives held back on those issues and will revisit them next
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