Disagreement over push for stronger medical marijuana regulations

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LANSING, Mich. – There’s a push for change and clarity in Michigan’s medical marijuana laws, but past support for this reform seems to be fading after changes were made to the dispensary bill last week calling for a tiered licensing system.

Tuesday, in an effort to once again draw support, a bipartisan coalition met at the capitol to explain why they think stricter regulations in pending medical marijuana legislation are needed.

When it comes to statewide medical marijuana law reform, both sides will tell you that helping patients is at the heart of the issue.

However, with recent, stricter regulations written into these bills stuck in the Senate, the question has become: do these regulations work more to crack down on illegal activity, or do they make it harder for patients to get their medicine?

“What we have now is basically a form of organized crime,” said State Senator Rick Jones.

Jones urged the bipartisan group Tuesday to pass the dispensary, non-smoking, and seed-to-sale tracking bills now with stricter regulations.

However, these regulations are costing pending legislation, namely HB 4209 and HB 4827, the support of many medical marijuana advocates that were previously on board.

“We see Senator Jones having to drum up support for the new version of the bills after last Tuesday’s hearing because he’s introduced some ridiculous restrictions into the language of the bills,” said Rick Thompson, board member with Michigan NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

“(Jones is) going to introduce a three-tier alcohol model system for distribution of the medical marijuana; that’s not demonstrated to be needed.”

Supporters like Thompson told FOX 17 they are no longer on board with these bills, but still support the non-smoking bill, or medical marijuana concentrates legalization through HB 4210.

The National Patients Rights Association Legislative Liaison Robin Schneider was also not attendance Tuesday but told FOX 17 both NPRA and several pediatric patient groups do not support the added regulations; instead they favor “vertically integrated” companies that would create a more affordable system for patients to get their medicine.

The point of contention here, again, is the proposed tiered licensing system for growers, distributors, and retailers in a system that is similar to alcohol regulations. Schneider said the tiered system could drive up prices, while those in favor believe it prevents a monopoly.

“I would rather have us start from scratch with positive interaction from patient organizations and not just business organizations, than to have these bills passed right now,” said Thompson.

“It disturbed me that the language has been so radically changed from where it was at the end of 2014: it’s gone from a functional piece of legislation to a non-functioning reward system for big commerce and big business.”

Yet supporters of the amended bills, like Michigan Cannabis Development Secretary Willie Rochon said, “Our patients are why we got into this business and the commitment to our patients is why we want strong regulations.”

Jones said that part of the problem with the current system is that patients “don’t know what they’re getting, there’s no guaranteed testing,” to explain how regulations could make product safer.

“That’s the goal here: to make sure that we bring this into the world of legality and that if somebody is truly sick, they can get something that’s like a prescription that’s safe and secure,” said Jones.

As far as a potential vote in the Senate, it’s clear that recent amendments to these bills have widened opposition as they move forward into 2016.

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  • William Clark

    Senator Jones’ proposed revision is, predictably, heavy in benefits to police, big business, and political influence peddlers, but not to patients’ access to medicine.

    Me? I’ve read accounts of entrapment, coercion, and departmental greed, under color of antiquated, unconstitutional State forfeiture laws. An MSP crime lab instructed to report samples as being ‘of unknown origin’ rather than herbal marijuana, thereby bumping alleged ‘crimes’ up from misdemeanors to felonies. Policing for profit, a pose of being ‘tough on crime’, instead of pursuing real crimes against real victims. And don’t look to the Attorney General for relief; he wants to run for Governor under these same dark flags.

    I favor the MILegalize petition. Please visit its website and contribute to its campaign fund.

    Michigan is a Right to Farm State. If your land is suitable and you raise crops according to State standards, you may compete in the State’s open market. One cannot patent a species of plant, only hybrids which one has developed. Limiting growers to corporate farms will reduce the number of strains available, and likely insure that what is produced will be pesticide-rich. I’d say legalize marijuana but don’t corporatize it. Never interfere with patients’ rights to grow their own.

    And tell the police to take a hike. They are addicted to profiting from Michigan’s antiquated, unconstitutional forfeiture law. Their reps have repeatedly hijacked lawmakers’ votes to fine-tune the MMMA, by showing up ‘en masse’ and playing ‘tough cop’ in legislators’ offices just before a vote.

    “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting people to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, break up their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” –John Erlichman

    Prohibition of marijuana is a premise built on a tissue of lies: Concern For Public Safety. Our new laws save hundreds of lives every year, on our highways alone. In November of 2011, a study at the University of Colorado found that, in the thirteen states that decriminalized marijuana between 1990 and 2009, traffic fatalities have dropped by nearly nine percent—now nearly ten percent in Michigan—more than the national average, while sales of beer went flat by five percent. No wonder Big Alcohol opposes it. Ambitious, unprincipled, profit-driven undertakers might be tempted too.

    In 2012, a study released by 4AutoinsuranceQuote revealed that marijuana users are safer drivers than non-marijuana users, as “the only significant effect that marijuana has on operating a motor vehicle is slower driving”, which “is arguably a positive thing”. Despite occasional accidents, eagerly reported by police-blotter ‘journalists’ as ‘marijuana-related’, a mix of substances was often involved. Alcohol, most likely, and/or prescription drugs, nicotine, caffeine, meth, cocaine, heroin, and a trace of the marijuana passed at a party ten days ago. However, on the whole, as revealed in big-time, insurance-industry stats, within the broad swath of mature, experienced consumers, slower and more cautious driving shows up in significant numbers. Legalization should improve those numbers further.

    No one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana. It’s the most benign ‘substance’ in history. Most people—and particularly patients who medicate with marijuana–use it in place of prescription drugs or alcohol.

    Marijuana has many benefits, most of which are under-reported or never mentioned in American newspapers. Research at the University of Saskatchewan indicates that, unlike alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or Nancy (“Just say, ‘No!’”) Reagan’s beloved nicotine, marijuana is a neuroprotectant that actually encourages brain-cell growth. Research in Spain (the Guzman study) and other countries has discovered that it also has tumor-shrinking, anti-carcinogenic properties. These were confirmed by the 30-year Tashkin population study at UCLA.

    Drugs are man-made, cooked up in labs, for the sake of patents and the profits gained by them. Often useful, but typically burdened with cautionary notes and lists of side effects as long as one’s arm. ‘The works of Man are flawed.’

    Marijuana is a medicinal herb, the most benign and versatile in history. “Cannabis” in Latin, and “kanah bosm” in the old Hebrew scrolls, quite literally the Biblical Tree of Life, used by early Christians to treat everything from skin diseases to deep pain and despair. Why despair? Consider the current medical term for cannabis sativa: a “mood elevator”. . . as opposed to antidepressants, which ‘flatten out’ emotions, leaving patients numb to both depression and joy.

    The very name, “Christ” translates as “the anointed one”. Well then, anointed with what? It’s a fair question. And it wasn’t holy water, friends. Holy water came into wide use in the Middle Ages. In Biblical times it was used by a few tribes of Greek pagans. But Christ was neither Greek nor pagan.

    Medicinal oil, for the Prince of Peace. A formula from the Biblical era has been rediscovered. It specifies a strong dose of oil from kanah bosom, ‘the fragrant cane’ of a dozen uses: ink, paper, rope, nutrition. . . . It was clothing on their backs and incense in their temples. And a ‘skinful’ of medicinal oil could certainly calm one’s nerves, imparting a sense of benevolence and connection with all living things. No wonder that the ‘anointed one’ could gain a spark, an insight, a sense of the divine, and the confidence to convey those feelings to friends and neighbors.

    I am appalled at the number of ‘Christian’ politicians, prosecutors, and police who pose on church steps or kneeling in prayer on their campaign trails, but cannot or will not face the scientific or the historical truths about cannabis, Medicinal Herb Number One, safe and effective for thousands of years, and celebrated as sacraments by most of the world’s major religions.

  • Michael McShane

    All these “Pro Patient” groups could care less about the patient. They care about monopolizing the Marijuana business and are working to keep anybody out that threatens protected sales territories. All these groups are being run out of California. Marijuana has turned darker than anyone could imagine. I have Cancer and AIDS and was run out of Michigan when these people called the police on me in an effort to get me out of their way. They will stop at nothing to eliminate everything in their way to financial independence.


  • Tommy Thumbs

    II call bs, there is not a problem with safe meds and has not been a problem to date they claim for patient safety but mean we want to make money off the sick and get a nice golden parachute from the select few given the rights to dispensing, growing, and testing

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