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Michigan House OK’s New Medical Marijuana Provision Bill

Posted by Jason Draizin on 05/14/2012 in Medical Marijuana Legalization

The Michigan State House of Representatives approved a series of four bills on Thursday aimed at clarifying and modifying Michigan’s current medical marijuana law. By proposing new rules for doctor-to-patient relationships, law enforcement access to all patient registries and requiring medical marijuana to be kept inaccessible in vehicles, supports of the package deem this necessary to clarify issues that have arisen since the law was adopted. The revision of the law will also help legitimate patients while reining in potential abuses.

The bills are meant to clarify the “Michigan Medical Marihuana Act” that was originally passed by Michigan voters in 2008, and has drawn the attention of marijuana advocates. The bills will head to the Senate after receiving the necessary three-fourths majority vote in the House of Representatives with bi-partisan support. Before these changes become effective, similar vote majorities will be needed for approval in the state Senate, “but I do think we've sent a package they can adopt,” said state Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The potential amendments of the bill from 2008 would be part of a four-bill contentious series, all of which provide their own revision to the original Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. The bill’s entitled HB 4834, HB 4851, HB 4853, HB 4856, are giving medical-marijuana users some things they asked for, but also some they oppose.

HB 4834, the first bill of the series, would require Michigan medical marijuana patients to possess a photo I.D. on their registry identification card, make sure the card is valid for two years and also privatize parts of the registration process. HB 4834 would also allow law enforcement to access information about patients through the patient registry.

HB 4851, part two of four, will offer stricter guidelines for the “bona-fide physician-patient relationship” as in relation to medical marijuana use, including the requiring of an in-person physical examination of the patients.

HB 4853, the third bill, will put the penalty for selling marijuana without a proper registry identification card within the sentencing guidelines for a two-year felony.

HB 4856, part four of the four bill contentious series, will criminalize the transportation or trafficking of medical marijuana in a motor vehicle under certain conditions.

Campaign director of the Committee for a safer Michigan, Matt Abel, is troubled by the access to patient's personal information that HB 4834 gives police officers using the Law Enforcement Information Network (otherwise known as LEIN). The Committee for a safer Michigan is a group working towards legalizing marijuana in Michigan. Abel said, “The access to the LEIN system by name and address is going to cause all kinds of problems. There were people who were assured their information was confidential.”

Although Abel thinks HB 4853 is fair because it applies a consistent standard for two year offenses, he believes that HB 4851 and HB 4856 directly single out the medical marijuana community for targeted regulations. In regards to HB 4856, Abel said, "It would prevent a medical marijuana patient from carrying it on their person, but they can carry their Vicodin on their person.”

Republican Mike Callton introduced another bill to the House regarding marijuana earlier this week, entitled HB 5580. HB 5580 would be responsible for the regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries and provisioning centers to ensure that they are safe and clean. “Since medical marijuana became legal in Michigan, dispensaries are popping up left and right and we need to make sure these places pass the grandma test,” Callton said in a release. “If you wouldn't feel safe having your grandma go to one of these places to pick up her medical marijuana, as if she went to a pharmacy, then it needs to be cleaned up or closed down.”

HB 5580 will authorize that marijuana cannot be consumed at dispensaries or provisioning centers, only sold. It will also provide for local control and allow caregivers to sell excess products to dispensaries. The bill would also prohibit centers from setting up their locations at least 1,000 feet from schools. In order for HB 5580 to go forward, is must now be considered by the Judiciary Committee.

Matt Abel also added that there is a lot to like to about Nashville Republican Mike Callton’s bill, but addressed concern about HB 5580’s 90-day record keeping requirements for all transactions. Abel thinks this may open the door for raids performed by federal agents. The United States Department of Justice released a memo last year that stated state laws do not protect patients from federal prosecution.