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By Dave HerndonTwitter: @NHDaveH
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Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are working together to help clarify and shore up inefficiencies within the state’s medical marijuana law.Last week, state Sen. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) introduced a bipartisan bill that would make it legal for “provisioning centers,” better known as dispensaries, to operate around the state.“What the Legislature failed to do following the passage of that ballot proposal was enact any sort of language that detailed provisioning centers,” Knezek said. “What you have right now is essentially the wild, wild, west. You have dispensary after dispensary popping up in our communities with no regulation as to where they can locate.”A bill that mirrors the Senate version also was introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives last week.
One or both bills is expected to be acted on “quickly,” according to Knezek.Medical marijuana was approved by voters in 2008, but due to language in the law, selling and possessing marijuana is still technically illegal. The substance remains illegal at the federal level.The Michigan 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.“I have a number of residents who reach out to me to share their frustrations,” Knezek said. “Even if they are OK with the concept, they aren’t OK with how close these places are locating next to schools and places of worship. For me, that is a very big problem.”Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has issued opinions that because of the lack of laws outlining the legality of a dispensary that they are all illegal. Knezek hopes his bill will shore that up and help create better ways for patients to get the medicine they need.“This legislation establishes provisioning centers so that patients and providers have a destination to get their medical cannabis,” he said. “It also provides for third party testing of all substances that go out the door. Patient safety is something that has failed to be a part of this conversation for a long time now. This …Read More