Bipartisan legislation would allow for “provisioning centers,” businesses where patients with a state-issued medical marijuana card could buy surplus marijuana produced for other patients.(Photo: AP)
LANSING – Confusion surrounding the legality of marijuana dispensaries and nonsmokable forms of the drug are prompting lawmakers to propose changes related to Michigan’s voter-approved law that legalized marijuana for medical use.
Bipartisan legislation introduced Thursday would allow for “provisioning centers,” businesses where patients with a state-issued medical marijuana card could buy surplus marijuana that suppliers produce for other patients.
Advocates say the bill is needed because the state Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that qualified patients and caregivers cannot transfer marijuana to another patient or anyone else, and dispensaries that facilitate such transactions can be shut down as a public nuisance. Some municipalities have let the dispensaries continue to operate while others have not.
The legislation, which supporters say would give patients safe access to marijuana, needs regular majority support from the Republican-controlled Legislature to go to the governor’s desk because it would not directly amend the 2008 marijuana law.
Another bill would authorize nonsmokable marijuana such as oils, food items and pills. It requires a vote from three-quarters of the House and Senate because it would change the voter-initiated law.
“Sixty-three percent of voters wanted the use, the compassionate use, of medical marijuana for certain classes of patients. This package of bills helps to fulfill the intention of the voters,” said House Health Policy Committee Chairman Mike Callton, R-Nashville.
Michigan has 165,000 residents allowed to use marijuana to treat cancer and other illnesses and nearly 32,000 licensed caregivers.
Among those backing the legislation is Ida Chinonis of Grand Blanc, whose 6-year-old daughter Bella was born with a genetic disorder that causes seizures. She said she obtained marijuana oil as a “last resort” a month ago and has seen improvements over regular medicines.
Seizures that lasted 10 minutes now are 10 seconds, she said, and her awareness is better.
“She’s starting to engage when you ask her questions. … She’s calmer. She’s actually participating more in school as well,” said Chinonis, who traveled to Lansing on Thursday for a Capitol news conference with lawmakers, a Detroit councilman and Lansing’s police chief.
Similar bills easily won passage in the House in 2013 but died on the Senate floor in December’s lame-duck session, primarily because of concerns from law enforcement.
Callton said he intends to speak with opponents earlier this …Read More