Medical marijuana is the thing that has everyone buzzing these days.
Several bills, no less than 16, that would affect the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act have been introduced into state legislature. If passed, many of these bills would
undermine Michigan’s voter-approved law by preventing or discouraging patients from accessing their doctor-recommended medicine.
Some of the proposed laws would nullify the MMMA, making it illegal for patients or caregivers to obtain or provide to others and by forbidding patients who live near schools, churches or day care centers to cultivate in their own homes.
“I’m all for medical marijuana if it is used correctly, because there are definitely instances where it is needed,” Kathryn Marquette, communications major, said. “But until it is legalized fully for everyone, I support regulations on it.”
All of the bills affect medical marijuana patients and caregivers, and eleven of the bills seek to amend the MMMA, which requires three quarters approval by both the House of Representatives and The Senate.
All of the laws are currently sitting in the Senate and The House of Representatives. Bill SB 321 seeks to propose to amend the Insurance Code of 1956 to exclude the medical use of marijuana as an allowable expense within personal protection insurance coverage.
Bill SB 506 seeks to strictly define what a bona-fide doctor-patient relationship is. Under this law, doctors would need to take a medical history of the patient; perform a physical examination; review prior treatments and responses and more.
A full list of proposed bills can be seen at www.mpp.org
State senators Rick Jones and Tonya Schuitmaker announced late last month that they are also drafting a legislation to require at least one year of residency before obtaining a Michigan medical marijuana card.
“States are passing medical marijuana laws in direct violation of the federal law, which prohibits the prescription or legal use of marijuana under any circumstances. My take on that it is…it’s silly,” Amanda Burgess-Proctor, assistant professor of sociology, said.
Burgess-Proctor teaches a course on drugs and addiction at OU and also wrote a guest column for The Oakland Press that discussed inconsistencies the U.S. drug policy.
Michigan isn’t the only state seeking to alter their medical marijuana law, though. Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania also currently have pending legislation regarding medical marijuana.
Only two bills regarding medical marijuana have passed this year. While 16 house and senate bills regarding medical marijuana introduced in 2011 from states like Connecticut, Florida and Texas failed to pass and died when the legislature adjourned.
But this isn’t the first time controversy and debate has surrounded medical marijuana in Michigan.
On Aug. 24, the Michigan Court of Appeals declared commercial marijuana sales illegal and most local medical marijuana dispensaries were forced to close their doors. Now, medical marijuana patients must find a dispensary that is still open or turn to caregivers who will agree to add them as patients.
But supporters and patients of medical marijuana are not taking the fight lying down.
Thousands of supporters and patients of medical marijuana traveled to Lansing early September to protest the proposed restrictions on the practice in Michigan.
“It’s a really dysfunctional system of policies and I think that we can be smarter about our laws regarding drug policy,” Burgess-Proctor said.
Now, places all over the state are taking a stance in the debate against medical marijuana.
Kalamazoo voters will decide next month whether to write a relaxed attitude towards medical marijuana into western Michigan’s community City Charter.
The ballot proposal would direct police enforcement against small possessions of marijuana a low priority. Approximately 2,600 signatures were gathered for the proposal to make a spot on the Nov. 8 ballot.