Posts Tagged ‘Michigan’
LANSING, MI — Starting Monday, significant changes to Michigan’s medical marijuana program will take effect, including extending medical marijuana registration card expiration to two years, setting rules defining a doctor-patient relationship, and requiring medical marijuana to be transported in the trunk of a car.
Monday’s changes to the medical marijuana law reflect the first significant changes to 2008′s voter-approved law allowing medical marijuana to patients suffering certain debilitating illness, including cancer and chronic pain.
But lawmakers said the 2008 law left too much open to interpretation, and pushed through several separate measures at the end of last session designed to clarify the act.
House Bill 4834 extended medical marijuana program registration card expiration from one to two years, House Bill 4856 requires medical marijuana to be transported in the trunk of a car, and House Bill 4851 clarified the doctor-patient relationship needed before medical marijuana use can be certified, one of the most significant changes to the law.
Democratic Rep. Phil Cavanagh of Redford Township in Wayne County, primary sponsor of HB 4851, said lawmakers had concerns that the certificates were given out too liberally, like over the phone or Internet.
But starting Monday, doctors must complete face-to-face medical evaluations of patients, review their relevant medical records, and assess their medical condition and history. The amendments also require follow-up with patients after providing the certification to see whether the use of medical marijuana to treat the illness is working.
Cavanagh said this prevents “some out-of-state doctor from coming in, renting a hotel room, writing these things and then leaving town.”
“Now we are saying: `What’s behind that card? Where did you get certified? Who was your doctor?”’ said Michael Komorn, a Michigan attorney who specializes in medical-marijuana law. He said the new standards will benefit patients and doctors by outlining what is expected throughout the certification process.
Among other changes that begin Monday is that state-issued cards given to people who have a doctor’s endorsement will be good for two years instead of one. Applicants also must show proof of residence, like a driver’s license or state ID, to get the $100 cards.
Also effective Monday is a new rule that medical marijuana must be transported in the trunk of a car.
These changes, while the most recent, are not the only changes on the horizon for Michigan’s evolving medical marijuana program. A Michigan lawmaker has introduced a bill that would authorize medical marijuana dispensaries following a state Supreme Court ruling that they’re not allowed under the current law.
The bill would allow local communities to license and regulate “provisioning centers,” allowing medical marijuana patients to have access to their medicine.
Rep. Callton says that not allowing dispensaries is a hole in the law that needs to be fixed, as it is causing an unfair hardship on terminally ill people.
Last year, the same court ruled that collective medical marijuana growing is also not permitted under state law.
by Phillip Smith,
A little more than a week after the state Supreme Court ruled that Michigan’s medical marijuana law doesn’t allow for dispensaries, a state lawmaker is ready to file a bill that would allow cities and counties to approve them via local option.
State Rep. Mike Callton (R-Nashville) said he will introduce House Bill 4271 (not yet available online) Tuesday. The bill already has bipartisan support, with eight Democrat and eight Republican cosponsors.
A similar bill died in committee last year, and medical marijuana foe Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) has said no further medical marijuana bills are needed this year, but Callton told theLansing State Journal he thought the measure would fare better this time around.
“I’m a Republican and I’m from a conservative area, but I’ve seen growing support from a lot of other legislators for this from both parties,” Callton said. “And now, with this court ruling, it becomes much more important. I want people to be able to take a recommendation for (marijuana) from their doctor and be able to go to what we’re calling a provisionary center.”
Not only has Schuette come out against any new medical marijuana bills, his office will this week send out letters to all 83 county prosecutors instructing them to shut down anything resembling a dispensary, his office said on Friday.
Between the state Supreme Court ruling and Schuette’s aggressive posture, Michigan dispensary operators — there may be as many as a hundred statewide — are running scared. Many have closed their doors, while others remain open only on the down low.
“Nobody I know in this state is advertising this service anymore — it’s all going to be word-of-mouth from now on,” Holice Wood, owner of a compassion club, told the State Journal.
The state’s 125,000 registered medical marijuana patients now must grow their medicine themselves, rely on a caregiver (limited to no more than five patients), or resort to the black market. Patients need safe access to their medicine, they said.
“It’s cost-prohibitive to grow this yourself, and it’s labor intensive,” said Alec McKelvey Jr., 41, of Warren, a state-registered patient who uses marijuana to fight the side effects of cancer treatments. “You have to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment and really know what you’re doing to get a quality plant that has no parasites or mold — that would make my health worse,” McKelvey said.
LANSING, MI — A Michigan lawmaker plans to quickly introduce a bill to legalize medical-marijuana shops after the state Supreme Court said they’re not allowed under a 2008 law.
Republican Rep. Mike Callton of Nashville says he’s concerned cancer patients and others won’t have access to the drug without dispensaries.
He says many of the state’s 125,000 medical-marijuana users can’t grow their own and there aren’t enough caregivers to grow it for them. Callton says patients will be forced to go underground to find pot.
A similar bill went nowhere last year, but Callton says the issue is more urgent after the Supreme Court decision Friday.
Michigan voters approved marijuana for medical purposes in 2008.
By William Breathes
Medical marijuana has been a boon for Michigan state coffers over the last year, generating more than $10 million in revenue for the state.
Michigan voters approved medical marijuana legislation in 2008, with the program coming online in 2009. In it’s first year the program generated $308,400 in revenue. That number jumped considerably in 2010 to more than $3.6 million. This past year, with some 115,775 patient and caregiver registries and renewals, that number jumped to $10,425,600, according to an annual report from the state’s MMJ program to the Michigan legislature.
Officials with the state say the money is going to “a new database, enhancing the telephone system and addition staff to process all of the cards.”
Considering the entire program costs about $1.8 million to run, that’s a pretty hefty profit to be made off patients and caregivers. Currently, registration costs $100 though there is a $25 application fee for people on Medicaid and disability. LIcenses are good for one year, though there is legislation currently being considered that would extend that to two years. Michigan law allows for the registry fees to adjust if they are “shown to be insufficient to offset all expenses,” but there’s no mention of what happens if they are way too high.
In Colorado, for example, the medical marijuana patient registry is forced to reexamine the program costs compared to the amount of patients and adjust the registration fees accordingly. In recent years, that has meant a drop from $90 to $35. The idea is that as more and more patients hopped on the registry, the overall cost becomes spread out across more patient fees.
The Michigan report is pretty interesting if you’re a patient in other states that have medical marijuana laws. For starters, Michigan has a really large patient base with more than 124,400 patients and nearly 26,000 primary caregivers as of the end of 2012. They also have an extremely fast turnaround of about 15 days, despite the volume of patients. Since the marijuana registry program began, there have been 344,313 applications and renewals – that’s an average of 245 entries processed every business day, not taking into account holidays.
“Cannabis will be legal in Michigan by 2016″ — Brad Forrester, Michigan NORML
LANSING, MI — Fresh off of a clean sweep of local initiatives passed in November, which saw voters in 5 Michigan cities pass changes to municipal marijuana laws, Michigan activists are focusing on more local initiatives and a statewide push for marijuana decriminalization.
On November 6, voters in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint and Ypsilantiin November approved separate proposals to decriminalize adult possession or de-prioritize enforcement, and in Kalamazoo voters approved a proposal to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the city by nearly 2 to 1.
Brad Forrester, who helped form the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association and is the Local Program Director for the Cheboygan County affiliate of the Michigan Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says activists will continue to work to place local initiatives on municapal ballots in 2013 and 2014, while working towards a 2014 or 2016 statewide ballot campaign to decriminalize marijuana possession. Encouraged by the successful tax and regulate campaigns in Colorado and Washington in November, activists are not ruling out a potential 2016 bid to legalize and regulate cannabis for adult use.
“I’ll be bold and predict that cannabis will be legal in Michigan by 2016,” said Forrester.
Matthew Abel, a Detroit-area attorney who helped organize a failed petition drive to repeal marijuana prohibition last year, says that it is a matter of “when, not if” Michigan legalizes adult recreational use of cannabis. Michigan has been a medical marijuana state since 2008.
“Certainly by 2016, we would hope to get something on the ballot,” Abel said. “If things break our way, we’re open to looking at 2014. Right now, I am surveying pollsters and trying to get more information.”
Abel said it was not a lack of public support that doomed Michigan’s failed marijuana legalization petition drive, but poor planing and publicity for the proposal, which fizzled out with less than 100,000 signatures, far fewer than the 350,000 required to place the bill on the ballot.
Abel said he would like to see polls showing at least 60 percent support in Michigan for decriminalization or legalization before moving forward with another petition drive, which would require significant financial backing and organization to be successful.
While some activists remain optimistic that a state lawmaker could introduce marijuana decriminalization legislation this session, Abel said it is highly unlikely the Republican-controlled legislature would approve it. Michigan lawmakers recently passed legislation adding restrictionsto the state’s medical marijuana law.
In the meantime, activists plan to continue building momentum by focusing on another round of local initiatives. At their meeting last month, they reviewed voting patterns and identified more than 20 communities that they may target in 2013 or 2014, including Lansing, Jackson, Traverse City and Mt. Clemens.
In some of those cities, they will push for legislative changes by reaching out to elected officials. If those attempts fail, they will look to enable local activists seeking to organize an off-year ballot proposal.
“Lansing is the community that we would most like to see pass something legislatively,” said Forrester. “That would be huge symbolically for us if Lansing, the state’s capital, voluntarily decriminalized cannabis.”
“In 2013, we’re really going to look at what municipalities are receptive to cannabis laws and who we have in terms of qualified people in those municipalities to lead a campaign,” Forrester concluded. “Then, we’ll make sure they get the resources and materials they need to win, because we are not about to embark on a losing campaign.”
Last week, Michigan’s leaders passed a number of bills in a marathon lame-duck session, scrambling to push through controversial legislation behind closed doors late into the night. The bills included several amendments to Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), in addition to an Emergency Financial Manager bill which was previously rejected by Michigan voters just over a month ago.
The medical marijuana bills passed includeprovisions that:
- Restrict how medical marijuana is transported, potentially creating a new crime
- Dictate workers’ compensation or auto insurance coverage for medical marijuana
- Continue to attack the doctor-patient relationship, discouraging additional potential doctors from participating
- Encourage outdoor growth without addressing concerns of additional protections
- Disqualify some current, approved caregivers after previous long-term patient relationships
These stipulations do nothing to protect patients or caregivers, and seem aimed at creating more medical marijuana-related arrests.
Requiring a specific location for transport is absurd, and shows politicians do not recognize the medicinal benefits of marijuana, continuing to treat it as an illegal drug. Must you take the same precaution when picking up antibiotics or heartburn medication, locking it in the trunk and disallowing any passengers? These new bills are a step back for Michigan and the MMMA.
If legislators want to make a difference, it starts elsewhere than the Act. The program’s $16.7 million surplus, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency, should be used to teach and retrain police agencies on new policies and procedures regarding medical marijuana. Patients and caregivers have created this surplus, they should benefit directly from it.
Several months ago, I spoke at a House Judiciary Committee Hearing, providing perspective on patients and medical marijuana. The goal then, as it remains now, is to change the perception of medical marijuana and increase patient safety, not leave them open for more scrutiny and harassment.
Legislators need to accept medical marijuana, its benefits, and understand that their constituentsoverwhelmingly approved its legality. Medical marijuana needs to be added as a provision to the Public Health Code, rather than viewed as an exception to criminal behavior in limited circumstances.
Legislators have seemingly caused more stress, fear and anguish for the very people who put them in office. The passing of the MMMA was an historic day for Michigan and a huge victory for those seeking a natural, legal remedy for their ailments. The continued attacks of the Act endangers Michigan residents and is an ill-fated attempt to over-regulate and destroy its original intent, which is to provide patients with the relief they seek through the use of medicinal cannabis.
Voters in four Michigan cities — totaling over a million people — will also decide on Tuesday whether to legalize or depenalize the adult use of cannabis.
In Flint, Michigan voters will decide on a citizens’ initiative to amend the city code so that the possession on private property of up to one ounce of marijuana or cannabis paraphernalia by those age 19 or older is no longer a criminal offense.
Grand Rapids voters will act on Proposal 2, which seeks to allow local law enforcement the discretion to ticket first-time marijuana offenders with a civil citation, punishable by a $25 fine and no criminal record.
In Ypsilanti, voters will decide on a proposal to make the local enforcement of marijuana possession offenses the city’s lowest law enforcement priority.
Under state law, possessing cannabis is a criminal misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
More information on this year’s cannabis-centric state and local initiatives may be found at NORML’s Smoke the Vote page here.
KALAMAZOO, MI – People caught possessing marijuana in Kalamazoo will receive an appearance ticket instead of being arrested, under an ordinance adopted Monday by the Kalamazoo City Commission.
Author: Matt Jachman
TOWNSHIP, CITY REVISITING ZONING APPROACH TO MEDICAL MARIJUANA
A recent Michigan Court of Appeals ruling has prompted officials in Plymouth Township and Plymouth to change direction when it comes to medical marijuana, which, although legal in the state under certain conditions, remains in conflict with federal law.
Since the passage of Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Act in 2008, both communities have adopted zoning regulations that, while not explicitly mentioning marijuana, prohibited the use of any property for a purpose contrary to federal law, essentially outlawing the growing and storage of medical marijuana.
But a July Michigan Court of Appeals decision struck down a similar zoning provision in the city of Wyoming, on the state’s west side, declaring it “void and unenforceable.”
Plymouth Township’s Board of Trustees responded to that move Tuesday by declaring a 90-day moratorium on any zoning request having to do with medical marijuana, which officials said buys them time to work out, through the Planning Commission, how medical marijuana growing and storage business uses could fit into the township’s zoning scheme.
Township attorney Tim Cronin said a moratorium was permissible, but that “you can’t do unlimited moratoriums” and that a “cogent zoning and planning approach” is needed. The medical marijuana law says that marijuana intended for such purposes must be kept in an enclosed and locked facility.
“We have to regulate it just like any other business,” said Trustee Steve Mann, who emphasized the zoning issue pertained to marijuana growing and storage, not the use of marijuana by qualified patients.
Cronin said the city of Wyoming filed an appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which could reverse the decision. The higher court has not decided whether to take the case, but township officials will review the moratorium either when that decision is made or after 60 days.
In Plymouth, Mayor Dan Dwyer said the issue is under the city attorney’s review.
“There are a lot of communities in the state now that are having to review it,” he said.
The city is taking a deliberate approach, Dwyer said, to lessen the chance that it will have to revisit it later.
Medical marijuana has been causing confusion in communities around the state since it was approved by Michigan voters in November 2008. The use of medicinal marijuana is restricted to people suffering from “a chronic or debilitating disease,” such as cancer, AIDS, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or other diseases as approved by the state health department. Patients must have written certification from their doctors and a state-approved medical marijuana card.
Dwyer said he respects the will of voters on the issue, but thinks medical marijuana should be treated like other controlled substances: available via a doctor’s prescription and sold only at pharmacies.
“Make it a controlled substance like Vicodin or any other medicine and get it at your pharmacy,” Dwyer said.
The Ann Arbor city council has tabled a resolution that would change its medical marijuana licensing ordinance. The tabling, which is unlike a postponement to a date certain, leaves open the possibility that the council might not ever take the question up off the table. If the council fails to take the question up within six months, the item demises. However, Sabra Briere (Ward 1) indicated she intended to take it up off the table before the six months are up. The tabling took place at the council’s Oct. 1, 2012 meeting.
The ordinance amendments in question were recommended by the city’s medical marijuana licensing board at the start of the year. Representative of the revisions is a change that strikes the role of city staff in evaluating the completeness of a license application. The following phrase, for example, would be struck: “Following official confirmation by staff that the applicant has submitted a complete application …” The changes also establish a cap of 20 licenses, and grant the city council the ability to waive certain requirements. The board-recommended revisions to the medical marijuana licensing ordinance are laid out in detail in The Chronicle’s coverage of the medical marijuana licensing board’s Jan. 31, 2012 meeting. [.pdf of recommended licensing ordinance revisions]
The licenses that the board recommended be granted to 10 dispensaries citywide – recommendations also made at the board’s Jan. 31, 2012 meeting – have not yet come before the city council for final action. The proposed ordinance revisions, recommended by the city’s medical marijuana licensing board at its Jan. 31 meeting, had already been considered and postponed once before, at the council’s April 2, 2012 meeting. When the item came back onJune 18, 2012, it was postponed, again until Oct. 1.
The general background of the current medical marijuana climate includes enactment of two kinds of regulations for medical marijuana businesses last year, at the city council’s June 20, 2011 meeting. One piece of legislation established the zoning laws that apply to such businesses – establishing where medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities could be located. The other piece of legislation established a process for granting licenses to medical marijuana dispensaries. Cultivation facilities are not required to be licensed.
In the meantime, medical marijuana dispensaries in Ann Arbor continue to dispense marijuana to patients.
This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow.