LANSING — The full Senate will take up bills in the fall dealing with medical marijuana, but it is likely they’ll make several changes to the legislation that would allow dispensaries and the sale of marijuana-infused products to patients with medical marijuana cards.
The Senate Government Operations committee voted 3-1 Wednesday to approve the two bills, but Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, predicted the bills will look much different when they come up for a vote in the full Senate — probably in September.
“I have some of the same concerns as law enforcement,” he said. “My concern has always been playgrounds and neighborhoods, and making sure controls are in place so people who think they’re getting a certain product are actually getting that product.”
The two bills would legalize the manufacture and sale of marijuana-infused products, such as brownies and oils, and permit communities to allow and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in their towns.
Supporters of the laws packed a Senate committee room Wednesday to tell lawmakers that changes are desperately needed to help relieve the pain of terminally and chronically ill people.
“I’m relying on you to give my mother her medicine and give me more time with her,” said Josey Scoggin, 19, of Lansing.
Both she and her mother suffer from a rare genetic disorder that eats away at the cartilage between their bones. Her mother uses marijuana-infused oils, which are now illegal in Michigan, to help gain a better range of motion. Josey Scroggin is a medical marijuana card holder in the state.
But the Michigan State Police, Oakland County Sheriff’s Department and Attorney General Bill Schuette are opposed to the bills, in part, because of public safety issues of a largely cash business operating in the same place where the product is sold, as well as the need for better testing and labeling of the products.
And Elaine Womboldt, of Lansing, said she fears for the health, safety and property values of her neighborhood if the bills pass.
“There is no regard for the protection of neighborhoods and private citizens where the growing and processing is happening,” she said. “Why are the rights of the medical marijuana patients more important than rights of non-medical marijuana citizens.”
Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, said the answer is really quite simple.
“The spirit of the ballot initiative was to ease suffering,” she said. “I would hate to continue to create a murky area for the citizens of Michigan.”
A state Supreme Court ruling last year severely limited sales of medical marijuana to certified patients, leaving patients to either grow their own or buy the product from a licensed caregiver, who is limited in the amount they can grow.
Since Michigan voters passed the medical marijuana act in 2008 by a 63%-37% margin, more than 100,000 people have been certified to use medical marijuana for a variety of ailments.
Contact Kathleen Gray: 517-372-8661 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @michpoligal.
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