Cannabidiol Dispensary

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LANSING, MI — Medical marijuana sold through licensed dispensaries would be tracked from “seed to sale” under new legislation in the Michigan House.

House Bill 4827, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township, would require the state to establish or contract for a marijuana tracking system.

The legislation would complement an ongoing push to formally allow and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, some of which have continued to operate in a legal grey area since a 2013 Michigan Supreme Court ruling.

The dispensary bill would see the state license larger-scale marijuana growers, processors, transporters, “provisioning centers” and product safety testing facilities.

Marijuana transfers to dispensaries would be subject to an 8 percent tax under the proposed system, which would run parallel to the voter-approved caregiver home growing model.

The tracking bill is the latest wrinkle in the evolving medical marijuana dispensary plan, which may also provide a regulatory framework in the event that a recreational legalization proposal makes the ballot in 2016.

“We believe that regulation is the way forward,” said Jessica Billingsley, chief operating officer and co-founder of MJ Freeway Business Solutions, a tracking software company that could eventually bid for the state contract.

“Cannabis is unique in that it’s brought to market in a high-value dried flower form that loses value and weight as it evaporates, and it requires very unique inventory tracking in order to maintain a clear chain of custody and to prevent diversion.”

MJ Freeway, based in Colorado, is among a growing number of companies now offering marijuana inventory tracking software in states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use.

Kesto invited MJ Freeway to testify before the committee on Tuesday but noted that his invitation did not reflect an endorsement of their particular suite of tracking and compliance software.

Tracking medical marijuana can improve patient and product safety, according to MJ Freeway program manager Tony Reese, ensuring that strains are properly identified, testing is completed and dosage is consistent.

Tracking can also benefit public safety and help states avoid interference by the federal government, which continues to consider marijuana an illegal controlled substance, according to Reese.

“It’s product going across state borders that draws federal interference,” he said, explaining that tracking systems can help match supply and demand.

“It’s when supply overreaches demand significantly that things like diversion — people taking product and trying to capitalize that product in other markets to recover the capital investment — occurs.”

State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, questioned how much the software contract would cost the state and whether those costs would ultimately be passed onto consumers, thereby discouraging purchase through legal channels.

“My fear here is that in trying to grasp so tightly for control, everything will squeeze through our system, because of course there’s a very active black market for cannabis,” Irwin said.

Washington state, where voters chose to fully legalize the drug, contracted with Biotrack THC for tracking. The company reportedly submitted a bid of $782,000 for its software and $296,000 for annual maintenance and support.

Medical marijuana activists, who were not able to testify in committee on Tuesday due to time constraints, raised other concerns after the hearing.

“It seems excessive,” said Rick Thompson, former editor of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine. “We don’t really need the state to know whether we’re producing sativa or indica, or exactly how many clones we’ve produced.”

Roger Milford, who runs the Jackson County Compassion Club, said he uses the MJ Freeway software but does not believe it should be mandated by the state.

“I use it because it’s good for business,” said Milford. “I can track my caregivers. I can track my business. I know my patients are in a HIPAA-compliant database so they’re information is protected. I enjoy the system. It works well. But I don’t need the state telling us to track every little minutia.”

The House Judiciary Committee did not vote on the medical marijuana dispensary or tracking bills. Discussion is expected to continue at a later date.

Jonathan Oosting is a Capitol reporter for MLive Media Group. Email him, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

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LANSING, MI — Legislation that would have allowed for the legal return and regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan stalled out this week in the waning hours of the lame-duck session.

House Bill 4271, approved a year ago by the lower chamber, died a quiet death in the Senate, which wrapped up the 2013-14 session on early Friday morning without acting on the measure.

Companion legislation that would have allowed medical marijuana patients to use non-smokable forms of the drug — including “medibles” — also failed to advance.

State Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, said he personally asked Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville to pull his dispensary legislation from the agenda Thursday afternoon when its fate became clear.

“It wasn’t going to have the votes,” Callton said. “It was really looking good this morning. I was all excited. And then the Sheriff’s Association had all their sheriffs call all their senators, and suddenly we lost a lot of votes.”

Medical marijuana advocates gathered in the state Capitol earlier Thursday, hoping to see action on bills they have argued would improve access for patients certified to use the drug for medical purposes under a 2008 voter-approved law.

Richardville and other lawmakers had been working with the Michigan State Police and governor’s office in hopes of fine-tuning the bills and addressing lingering concerns, but critics mounted a late push to bury the bills.

The Michigan Sheriff’s Association, Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, Michigan Association for Local Public Health and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan circulated a letter Thursday telling lawmakers that the bills would “take Michigan down an uncharted course.”

“Michigan has experienced significant and wide ranging problems for patients, local government, law enforcement and the courts in the original Medical Marijuana Act,” said the letter. “A repeat of that is likely with HB 4271 and HB 5104.”

If lawmakers are interested in new medical marijuana distribution options, the letter continued, they should take more time to work on the plan next year.

That’s the plan, according to Callton.

“We’re going to have to work with them next session to get them on board or we’re never going to pass it,” he said.

Medical marijuana dispensaries operated freely in many Michigan communities until a February 2013 ruling by the state Supreme Court empowered county prosecutors to shut them down as a “public nuisance.”

The Michigan Court of Appeals, in July of that year, ruled that “pot brownies” were not a usable form of marijuana under the medical law, clouding the legal status of various “medibles,” which some patients prefer as a healthier alternative to smoking.

Two other bills approved this week by the state Legislature and headed to the governor’s desk would legalize industrial hemp research in Michigan.

The federal government has treated hemp as an illegal narcotic since 1970 due to its similarity to marijuana, but the federal Farm Bill enacted earlier this year included an amendment paving the way for industrial hemp research in states that allow it.

The federal “cromnibus” spending bill approved this month also includes language prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering with the production of industrial hemp, according to The Washington Post.

Jonathan Oosting is a Capitol reporter for MLive Media Group. Email him, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

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LANSING, MI — It’s the end of the road for the Michigan Legislature’s 2013-14 legislative session, which is set to conclude with final House and Senate meetings on Thursday.

Any bills not approved by the end of the day — or perhaps the wee hours of Friday morning — will end up on the ash heaps of history. Or they’ll be resurrected next year.

Here’s a look at a number of high-profile bills that could live or die in the final hours of the lame-duck session.

Roads: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder emerged from a Wednesday evening meeting with “quadrant” leaders suggesting a long-term road funding deal could be in the works. But it’s wasn’t done yet. Snyder and legislative leaders will meet first thing Thursday morning to try again. All sides agree on the need for $1.2 billion a year in extra road funding. We’ll see if they can get there, and if they’ll ask voters to finish the deal via a ballot proposal. More >>

Term limits: Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, considered calling for a vote Wednesday night on his resolution that would provide a term limit extension option for Michigan lawmakers. He held off but told reporters he wants a vote on Thursday. Any constitutional amendment would require supermajority support in both chambers and a vote of the people. More >>

Medical marijuana: There’s some medical marijuana drama brewing in the Senate, where Richardville has been working to fine tune House-approved bills that would allow for the return of regulated dispensaries and edibles. Two law enforcement groups spoke out against the bills Wednesday morning, but Richardville said action is still possible on Thursday. More >>

Education reforms: Two significant education-related packages remain up in the air. Teacher evaluation legislation approved by wide margins in the House back in May has languished in the Senate Education Committee, whose chairman said there’s still work to do. Meanwhile, legislation promoted as an early warning system for financially struggling school distrusts appears to have a stronger shot of getting done. The Senate-approved bills are sitting on the House floor for potential action. More >>

RFRA: The House-approved Religious Freedom Restoration Act appears to be dead in the Senate, although supporters made one last push this week. A group of senators sent Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, a letter urging him to put the bill up for a vote, but he remained noncommittal Wednesday night. Gov. Rick Snyder, noting the measure was introduced alongside a non-discrimination proposal that stalled, said he would have a “much greater degree of concern and higher level of scrutiny to the extent they’re separated, as opposed to being a package.” More >>

Amazon Tax: “Main Street Fairness” legislation approved by the Senate last week still has a shot in the House, where action could be linked to the road funding debate. The pair of bills aims to help the state collect sales and use taxes from out-of-state online retailers like Amazon. Michigan consumers are supposed to voluntarily report untaxed online spending and remit the appropriate use tax, but… More >>

Jonathan Oosting is a Capitol reporter for MLive Media Group. Email him, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter. 

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CADILLAC, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – A Michigan mother faces child abuse and other charges after authorities say she gave her 10- and 12-year-old sons marijuana for medical reasons.

The 31-year-old woman from the small village of Mesick, in Wexford County, attended a pretrial conference Tuesday in 84th District Court in Cadillac.

She’s charged with delivery/manufacture of marijuana and two counts of third-degree child abuse.

Wexford County Prosecutor Anthony Badovinac tells the Cadillac News that the woman gave marijuana to the 10-year-old boy to help with emotional issues and to the 12-year-old to treat attention deficit disorder.

Internal medicine Dr. Shawn Jayakar of St. John Hospital in Detroit says that’s not a good idea.

“Actually, ADD is linked to the use of marijuana,” Jayakar told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Sandra McNeill. “So I definitely would not recommend anyone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to use marijuana, as it can make it worse, make it more difficult to concentrate, and makes you prone to further abuse of other drugs.”

Jayakar said giving children pot at such a young age can causing brain damage if accumulated over a lifetime.

Badovinac said the woman indicated she preferred the use of pot to prescribed pills and police became involved after the woman told a Child Protective Services worker that she gave her children marijuana.

The woman faces up to 4 years in prison on the drug charge and up 2 years in prison or 5 years of probation on the child abuse charge. The Associated Press isn’t naming the woman to protect the identities of the children. The AP left a message seeking comment Wednesday from her lawyer.

Michigan voters approved marijuana use for some chronic medical conditions in 2008.

Under state guidelines, emotional issues and ADHD aren’t qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use. Minors can get permission to use medical marijuana, but they must have a qualifying condition and meet other rules.

Elsewhere, in a similar case, a Minnesota mother has been charged with child endangerment for giving her 15-year-old son cannabis oil to manage the pain of a traumatic brain injury. A medical marijuana law there doesn’t take effect until July.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LANSING — With a little less than 48 hours remaining in the legislative session, Michigan law enforcement and public health officials expressed concern about two medical marijuana bills they say are being rushed through the Legislature.

In a Wednesday morning press briefing, the executive directors of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, Michigan Sheriff’s Association and Michigan Association for Local Public Health urged Michigan senators not to pass House Bills 5104 and 4271.

The bills would allow for the return of regulated dispensaries and allow registered patients to use edibles. Parts of the bills would also allow medical marijuana cardholders to sell up to 50 ounces of excess product, something that concerned Robert Stevenson, head of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police.

“We’re creating an incentive for people to get a medical marijuana card and become involved in drug distribution,” Stevenson said.

The bills passed the Michigan House of Representatives back in December 2013 and have been sitting in the Michigan Senate for about a year. Stevenson, along with Terrence Jungel, head of the sheriff’s association, and Meghan Swain, head of the association for local public health, urged lawmakers to leave them be.

However, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville has been working on potential modifications to the legislation and believes both bills could still end up on Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk by the end of the year.

“We’re gonna try,” Richardville told reporters Wednesday. “We’ve got about 48 hours, and that’s more than enough time.”

When told the governor’s office didn’t believe there is enough time to finish work on the bills this year, Richardville said, “If we send him something, he’ll have to react to it. We’ve outperformed their expectations before.”

Richardville, who said that Michigan State Police have been helpful during discussions, said he’s trying to “walk that tightrope” between law enforcement needs and legitimate patient access to medical marijuana.

“Some of these people really do need this kind of medication,” he said.

The law enforcement officials who gathered Wednesday morning said they had not been consulted about the medical marijuana bills.

“We’ve not been invited to the table to talk about them,” Stevenson said.

Jungel, a retired sheriff from Ionia County, said the bills haven’t been vetted enough and complained lawmakers are trying to rush them through the Legislature in the lame-duck session.

“It’s the equivalent of Obamacare in that it’s not being betted adequately before implementation,” he said.

Swain said she was concerned with the lack of regulation regarding the edibles portions of the legislation. Edibles are foods baked with butter that’s been infused with THC, the active intoxicating chemical in marijuana.

She said it’s not clear how edibles will be regulated or who will regulate the bakeries where the edibles are made. Swain hoped the bills would be pushed into the next legislative session for more discussion and more input from local health departments.

“There are a lot of moving pieces and parts of this that have not been addressed in this legislation,” she said.

The law enforcement officials seemed mostly concerned with the provision in the bill that would allow people with medical marijuana cards to sell their excess supply.

Stevenson compared the provision with a person who is prescribed Oxycontinin being allowed to take three pills and sell the rest of the bottle to someone else. He said he’s also concerned about the bills not providing a way for law enforcement to track those sales.

“There’s no way we can track where the medical marijuana is going to, who it’s coming from and where it’s ultimately going,” he said.

Kyle Feldscher is the Capitol education and MSU reporter for MLive Media Group. Reach him via email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Kyle_Feldscher. Read more stories here.

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Cadillac — A Michigan mother faces child abuse and other charges after authorities say she gave her 10- and 12-year-old sons marijuana for medical reasons.

The 31-year-old woman from the village of Mesick attended a pretrial conference Tuesday in 84th District Court in Cadillac. She’s charged with delivery/manufacture of marijuana and two counts of third-degree child abuse.

The Associated Press isn’t naming the woman to protect the identities of the children. The AP left a message seeking comment Wednesday from her lawyer.

Wexford County Prosecutor Anthony Badovinac tells the Cadillac News the woman gave marijuana to the 10-year-old boy to help with emotional issues and to the 12-year-old to treat attention deficit disorder. Badovinac says the woman indicated she preferred that to prescribed pills.

Badovinac says police became involved after the woman told a Child Protective Services worker she gave her children marijuana. The drug charge is punishable by up to four years in prison and the child-abuse charge carries up to two years in prison or five years of probation.

Michigan voters approved marijuana use for some chronic medical conditions in 2008.

Under state guidelines, emotional issues and ADHD aren’t qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use. Minors can get permission to use medical marijuana, but they must have a qualifying condition and meet other rules.

A Minnesota mother has been charged with child endangerment for giving her 15-year-old son cannabis oil to manage the pain of a traumatic brain injury. A medical marijuana law there doesn’t take effect until July.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Lansing — Officials representing law enforcement and health workers urged Wednesday that lawmakers not pass bills that would permit medical marijuana dispensaries and “edible” forms of cannabis during the lame-duck session.

The legislation, which has passed the House and is among many bills pending on the Senate floor, contains too many risks to be adequately addressed during the two days remaining before the Legislature adjourns for the year, they argued at a press conference.

“We’re concerned they’re rushing this through in lame duck when it should be vetted more thoroughly,” said Terrence Jungel, executive director of the Michigan Sheriff’s Association.

Jungel and Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Robert Stevenson said police and health officials have had too little opportunity to comment on the measures.

“Never did anybody contact local law enforcement; never were we allowed to be involved or were we invited to be involved about the concerns,” Jungel charged.

Republican Rep. Mike Callton of Nashville, sponsor of the dispensary bill, took issue with the statements. He was meeting informally with senators Wednesday to push for passage of his bill.

“We’ve been working two years on this, and now they hold a press conference?” he said. “We started this last year and ran out of time. They’ve had lots of time to get their issues addressed.”

The criticism comes as Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, has been telling Capitol reporters he still hopes to pass the legislation this year.

One bill would permit marijuana provisioning centers, now illegal in Michigan, to buy and sell cannabis from medical marijuana card holders or licensed growers. The other would legalize marijuana-infused foods, or “medibles,” for consumption by medical marijuana card holders.

Jungel said the legislation would result in “a for-profit drug distribution business in the state of Michigan” with “very lax” record-keeping or regulation. He said local law enforcement agencies mostly would be barred from access to information about medical marijuana transactions.

Meghan Swain, executive director of the Michigan Association for Local Public Health representing 45 health departments, said the edibles bill could result in a “cottage industry” creating cannabis-laced foods — “folks who make these products in their own homes and are not regulated within a certain amount of their gross receipts.”

Callton said he sees nothing wrong with developing a small “home-grown industry” in Michigan with dispensaries and products for medical marijuana users, as opposed to sales and distribution through criminal activity.

Every ounce of marijuana sold through a state-registered provisioning center to a registered medical marijuana user is an ounce not bought and sold through cartels or organized crime syndicates, he argued.

The three said lawmakers should leave the proposals for the next Legislature, which would have more time to look into their concerns.

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CADILLAC, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – A woman from northern Michigan faces child abuse and other charges after authorities say she gave her 10- and 12-year-old sons marijuana for medical reasons.

The 31-year-old woman from the Wexford County village of Mesick had a pretrial conference Tuesday in 84th District Court in Cadillac. A next court date wasn’t set. She’s charged with delivery/manufacture of marijuana, as well as two counts of third-degree child abuse.

The woman isn’t being named to avoid identifying the children.

Wexford County Prosecutor Anthony Badovinac told the Cadillac News that the woman gave the 10-year-old marijuana to help with emotional issues and the 12-year-old marijuana to treat ADHD. The woman apparently indicated she would rather have a child use marijuana than pills that were prescribed.

Badovinac said police became involved after the woman told a Child Protective Services worker that she gave marijuana to the children. The drug charge is punishable by up to 4 years in prison and the child-abuse charge carries up to 2 years in prison or 5 years of probation.

Michigan voters approved marijuana use for some chronic medical conditions in 2008.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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CADILLAC, Mich. –

A woman from Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula faces child abuse and other charges after authorities say she gave her 10- and 12-year-old sons marijuana for medical reasons.

The 31-year-old woman from the Wexford County village of Mesick had a pretrial conference Tuesday in 84th District Court in Cadillac. A next court date wasn’t set. She’s charged with delivery/manufacture of marijuana as well as two counts of third-degree child abuse.

The Associated Press isn’t naming the woman to avoid identifying the children. The AP left a message seeking comment Wednesday with her lawyer.

Wexford County Prosecutor Anthony Badovinac tells the Cadillac News the woman gave the 10-year-old marijuana to help with emotional issues and the 12-year-old marijuana to treat ADHD. Badovinac says the woman indicated she would rather have a child use marijuana than pills that were prescribed.

Badovinac says police became involved after the woman told a Child Protective Services worker that she gave marijuana to the children. The drug charge is punishable by up to 4 years in prison and the child-abuse charge carries up to 2 years in prison or 5 years of probation.

Michigan voters approved marijuana use for some chronic medical conditions in 2008.

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Oakland County’s top law enforcers have had their ups and downs with metro Detroit’s tight-knit group of medical-marijuana users, advocates, lawyers and caregivers.

The county’s undercover officers have busted many a dispensary and other facility catering to users of medicinal cannabis, including one in Ferndale that had the approval of a city council vote and the city attorney’s opinion.

But Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard’s deputies came to the rescue Sunday night after a 911 call from a medical-marijuana grower. The caller urgently asked for police help as he witnessed — on a security screen in his home — the sight of thieves breaking into his facility in Commerce Township, according to a police news release.

The result was that officers from three departments broke up the B&E and arrested a suspect, according to the release from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s nice to see that,” said Matt Abel, executive director of Michigan NORML, the state chapter of a nationwide group that advocates legalizing marijuana.

The break-in occurred around 11:30 p.m. at 3295 Haggerty Road, a one-story medical-office building that fronts a small warehouse.

“Deputies arrived on scene and observed a van with no license plate backed up to a garage door,” the report said. “A hole has been cut into the garage door. The van was blocked in by an employee whom the owner had called prior to calling 911. Deputies set up a perimeter. Deputies and a K-9 unit (police dog) searched the business but with negative results. Deputies located a large, black garage bag full of marijuana in the suspect vehicle. The van was impounded.”

By 3 a.m. Monday, officers from Keego Harbor and West Bloomfield Township had collared the suspect and notified Oakland County. A county officer picked up the 33-year-old man from Sterling Heights, and he was jailed pending charges, the report said.

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office could not be reached for comment. But West Bloomfield Chief Michael Patton, whose officers played a limited but key role in police response, said the incident has important lessons for police.

“We know it’s a concern — that locations identified even as legitimate growing facilities can be targeted by the criminal element” for break-ins, robberies and potential violence, he said.

The legal landscape is changing rapidly, marijuana advocates say. The U.S. Congress is expected shortly to pass the nation’s giant annual appropriations bill, which contains a directive that defunds federal prosecutions of Americans who are in compliance with their own states’ laws on medical marijuana.

And in Lansing, Michigan’s lame-duck legislature is poised Thursday to pass a state law that would significantly broaden access to medical marijuana, allowing communities to decide whether to allow shops that would sell medicinal cannabis to state-licensed patients.

“When those things pass, it will be huge,” said lawyer Abel.

Contact Bill Laitner: [email protected] or 313-223-4485

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