LANSING, Mich. – Medical marijuana can be a sticky issue when it comes to what’s legal and what’s not in the state. Thursday morning safe access for medical marijuana was the topic of a House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing in Lansing.
Medical marijuana patients, caregivers, and their families lined the hearing room to give public testimony alongside the Michigan State Police. The committee debated two pending bills.
First House Bill 4209 proposes the Provisioning Center Regulation Act, which would essentially legalize dispensaries. The second, House Bill 4210, or the smoking-alternative medical marijuana bill, would expand the definition of legal “usable marijuana,” and include additional products like extract, plant resins, and oils.
Speaking at the hearing was the Powers Family. Ryan Powers is a kindergartener who is full of life; but not too long ago, this was not the case.
Ryan’s parents, Jim and Erin Powers, told FOX 17 News that Ryan has an auto-immune condition called minimal change disease, which used to cause him a lot of pain.
“He had pain in his legs: his top was very heavy, his legs were very small, so he couldn’t even run around after all the other kids,” said Erin Powers. “You’d see him waddling after them.”
Ryan takes a medical marijuana oil orally twice per day. The oil is high in cannabidiol, or CBD, which is a marijuana plant extract that has medical implications but does not get him high. His parents said Ryan was able to get off of a few prescriptions that were actually hurting his kidneys, and now he’s in remission.
“Once we were able to add cannabis oil to his treatment, he immediately came to long-term remission: before cannabis oil he maintained a remission of approximately 14 days, and today he’s been in remission for about 330,” said Jim Powers.
The Powers spoke to the benefits of medical marijuana in hopes of pushing the two bills into law, which the National Patient Rights Association spearheaded. Alongside them was the Michigan State Police.
“We have to be able to ensure that whatever the consumers are using, that it’s safe,” said Sgt. Amy Dehner, MSP legislative liaison.
An emotionally charged issue with many sides, Dehner said at this point, this is a complex issue and they are not taking a stance. However, Dehner did say once they address all concerns with consumer and food safety issues, then they will be a good position to move forward with the legislation.
“It’s not going to be solved overnight,” said Dehner. “Do I think there are solutions out there? Absolutely, but when you have an issue this complex, you have to make sure that you take your time, that you address what needs to be addressed.”
NPRA Legislative Liaison Robin Schneider said the organization is working to make medical marijuana patients’ rights a top priority in Michigan.
“Right now they can smoke [marijuana], but the real medicine, the capsules, the tinctures, the topical oils, those are the medications that are going to help somebody with cancer,” said Schneider. “Those are the medications that can go into a feeding tube. Those are the medications that will stop a child’s seizures.”
Meanwhile, Jim Powers said he wants to fight for his son’s access to the medication he believes works, and be protected under the law.
“This is all about protecting sick people, protecting families, keeping them safe from arrest, and making sure that they’re able to maintain custody of their children,” said Jim Powers.
The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee will continue its hearings on this potential medical marijuana legislation next week.