A bill that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate legally in the communities that want them and a second bill that would allow patients to use edible forms of the drug were approved by a Senate committee Wednesday.
House Bills 4271 and 5104 are meant to clarify the 2008 voter-approved law that opened the door for medical marijuana in the state. Last year, the Supreme Court banned dispensaries in the state, and since then dozens have been closed down by authorities. Others have continued to operate because prosecutors in some counties have not decided to close them.
Separately, a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling last year said certain marijuana-infused foods were not legal under the 2008 law.
These bills would make both dispensaries and edible usage legal.
The bills now move to the Senate floor, where Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, said he would vote against them in their current form.
But Richardville, who chairs the Senate Government Operations Committee, voted for them today in committee because he said he is committed to working on them. He made clear to the standing room-only crowd in the hearing room that changes will be made to the bills before they are sent to the governor.
Afterward, Richardville said he is not sure what specific changes need to be made, but in general he wants to make sure the language is clear about keeping the dispensaries away from playgrounds and neighborhoods.
Both bills were approved in the committee by a 3-1 vote, with Sen. Arlen Meekhof, R-West Olive, in opposition. Meekhof did not explain why he opposed the bills, but Richardville said Meekhof has previously called for pharmaceutical-level controls on the drug.
Jim Powers, speaking on behalf of more than a half-dozen state and local organizations in support of the bills, said communities are in limbo due to the earlier court rulings and waiting for the state to come up with a solution to allow dispensaries and edible usage of marijuana.
HB 4271, sponsored by Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to open in municipalities that permit them. Municipalities could also prohibit them. They could also enact ordinances requiring registration and licensing of the facilities.
Under the bill, dispensaries could not:
- locate within 1,000 feet of a school and
- sell marijuana unless it had been tested for mold, mildew, fungi and pesticides.
- employ anyone 21 years of age or younger, or someone who has a felony conviction regarding illegal drugs from the past 10 years.
- share office space with a physician.
- allow a physician to advertise in the facility or refer patients to a specific physician for monetary gain.
A dispensary could only sell marijuana to a registered patient, qualified visiting patient or registered primary caregiver.
HB 5104, sponsored by Rep. Eileen Kowall, R-White Lake Township, would allow patients to use edible forms of marijuana. Some patients do not want to smoke the drug but want to ingest it in some other form, such as liquid or in food or use it in a topical cream.
That bill specifies that the marijuana-infused product be specifically labeled with the weight in ounces, the name of the manufacturer and the date it was made.
Both bills passed the House in December with overwhelming majorities.
The full Senate could vote on the bills as early as next month.
Chris Gautz: (517) 403-4403, [email protected] Twitter: @chrisgautz
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