Two state representatives in Michigan have filed legislation in the 2015 session to expand the current medical marijuana program in the Great Lake State. The two bills, introduced by representatives Mike Callton (R-Nashville) and Lisa Lyons (R-Alto), address the issues of safe distribution of medical marijuana and the use of smokeless forms of the plant.
The bill introduced by representative Callton would shift the medical marijuana distribution chain away from the current dispensary model. Instead, this legislation introduces tighter regulations for cleanliness of medical marijuana distribution centers with a goal in mind for the businesses to look more like pharmacies.
The chairman of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Committee, Bill Vailliencourt, reported that this may be a good idea with certain stipulations. Vailliencourt reported to WPBN,
“That’s something that is worthwhile looking into as long as the concerns for law enforcement and local government, and health departments are taken into account because there are a lot of serious issues for all of those entities.”
Callton’s legislation also allows each individual municipality to design their own specific regulations. This includes the option to dictate the number of distribution centers that can operate within the district, or the choice not to license any. This bill also bans the use of all forms of medical marijuana on distribution facility property.
The current medical marijuana law in Michigan does not allow patients to use any smokeless forms of the product, including edibles. This means that using dried medical marijuana flowers to make butter, oil, tinctures and the like, is illegal. The second bill, introduced by representative Lyons, addresses this issue.
Lyons’ legislation would expand the list of allowable forms to include those that are not smoke-able. Many medical marijuana patients are not able to or just prefer not to smoke the plant, but there is no other option under the current laws in Michigan.
Other members of the Michigan Legislature have, so far, responded positively to these bills. Representative Callton believes that this is because of the verbiage of the bills. He explained,
“People traditionally think of marijuana as a liberal issue. This is a conservative bill that provides for local control. Furthermore, this isn’t a criminal matter. It’s a health care issue.”
Representative Lyons pointed out that on top of that, it is important that all medical marijuana patients be able to access the form of medicine that will best treat their individual condition. She told WPBN,
“The bottom line here is that we need to implement common-sense measures to ensure patients have safe access to medicinal marijuana. Additionally, we badly need to provide for alternative forms of medicinal marijuana because smoking may not be the most effective or healthy choice for patients, especially children. It is absurd that patients and parents face prosecution for using a method that best meets their medical needs, and we need to fix it.”
Both bills are anticipated to earn support when they are introduced to the House this week because they help to close some loopholes that many politicians are unsatisfied with under the current laws.
photo credit: theunboundspirit
As one of the most historic cities in America continues to fight it’s way back to economic promise, an unlikely industry is booming in Detroit – medical marijuana dispensaries.
“This is the next big thing in the city of Detroit.”
said Councilman James Tate.
“It’s quiet for folks who are not really paying attention, but everyday it seems like another business is opening up.”
Tate characterized the number of medical marijuana dispensaries operating within the city limits as “staggering.” He estimates there are a total of ~180 medical marijuana dispensaries in Detroit.
“I’ve counted 13 in District One myself. We see some locations, certainly along 8 Mile and other border streets, where you have four, five, six kind of clustered together.” Tate continued.
That statement alone tells me there were no strict, if any regulations being enforced from the get go. In most medical marijuana jurisdictions dispensaries are mandated to be a specific distance from another dispensary – generally 750 to 1,000 feet.
Councilman Tate noted this as the main issue for so many shops popping up in a short period of time.
“These buildings, they have now just started popping up everywhere and because the state law is not clear on if they’re allowed or not, we take these businesses to court and they just get tied up and they just stay there. We have not won one case, nothing has been shut down and that’s the reason why. Most of these businesses don’t have a permit, they have no licensing.”
Beyond the legal issues the city faces, Tate said he’s concerned about the impact that the dispensaries are having in their communities.
“It’s not about being against it. It’s about making sure that we’re able to regulate it in a way that ensures the best quality of life for the residents who live in that area.”
“We’ve got a lot of complaints about it but some of that is emotional because they just don’t like the issue. The other part of it is people are not educated on it.”
City Council members in Detroit are basically at a standstill until lawmakers in Lansing better define the medical marijuana laws concerning dispensaries.
Marijuana advocates in Michigan are working to improve local marijuana laws while taking slow and steady strides towards legalization. In the last two years, voters from seven different cities within the state have approved measures decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults. This year, there were initiatives pushed in eighteen more cities. Two cities already approved the measure in August, and a spot has been secured on the ballot in November for eleven more cities.
Michigan has never seen an election day with this many marijuana propositions on the ballots. According to WKAR Michigan Public Radio Network, members of the pro-marijuana team, Safer Michigan Coalition, have been working diligently to improve local marijuana laws with only a minimal budget for marketing and promotion. Charles Ream, Executive Direct of Safer Michigan Coalition, told WKAR that he is confident that all initiatives will be passed by voters despite the lack of campaign funds.
Ream explained that, although it would be ideal, he does not anticipate being able to push for an amendment legalizing the retail sale of marijuana to be on the ballot, state-wide, in 2016 because the coalition does not have the campaign funding to do so. However, if the team is able to obtain funding soon, he will gladly lead the initiative.
The ballot measures will legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults aged twenty-one years or older. This only applies to possession when on private property, and it will only be valid within approved city limits. Marijuana will remain illegal on a state and federal level. This measure will be on ballots in all of the following Michigan municipalities:
- Port Huron
- Mt. Pleasant
- Frankfort/Benzie County
- Huntington Woods
- Pleasant Ridge
This list of cities covers all types of ground. Some areas are urban, others rural and the list includes middle class suburbs. This diversity demonstrates that marijuana use is not concentrated to one specific group, it seems to be dispersed equally among all types of people and living situations.
photo credit: sean_emmett