marijuana

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state Senate may vote in the next day or so on major changes to Michigan’s medical marijuana law.

The bills would create a framework for licensing dispensaries and regulating edible forms of marijuana. 

Critics say the legislation is too vague.  

“I think it’s the equivalent of Obamacare in terms of not being vetted properly,” says Terrence Jungel, with the Michigan Sheriff’s' Association. 

But supporters say the legislation has been under development for years and is not being rushed through in the final days of the Legislature’s lame-duck session.

State Capitol
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It looks like a decision about whether to ease restrictions on medical marijuana will come down to the final days of the state Legislature’s 2014 session.

The state Senate has been debating for almost a year whether to allow dispensaries and edible forms of medical marijuana in Michigan.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, says he wants to pass House Bills 4271 and 5104 in December. But he says some groups are still concerned the legislation could lead to more illegal pot sales.

  

Marijuana plant.
USFWS

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss whether the legislature will be able to come up with a plan to fix Michigan's roads before the end of the year, a challenge to a Grand Rapids law decriminalizing marijuana, and what’s next on Detroit’s road to recovery.


A scene in Portland.
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On November 4, voters in five Michigan cities voted to decriminalize marijuana possession.

  • Berkley
  • Huntington Woods
  • Mount Pleasant
  • Port Huron
  • Saginaw

These are the most recent cities to do so. But decriminalizing a federally illegal substance is complex. These laws leave a lot up to the interpretation of local law enforcement officials. 

Decriminalizing marijuana began back in 1972 in Ann Arbor, and has really picked up steam over the last few years. Here's an overview of the cities that have decriminalized marijuana in Michigan, when they did so, and what it means for residents and law enforcement.

Marijuana plant.
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BERKLEY, Mich. (AP) - Voters in three southeastern Michigan communities have passed marijuana possession proposals.

Unofficial results on the Oakland County elections website say the proposals were approved Tuesday in Berkley, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge.

Results weren't immediately available late Tuesday in Clare, Frankfort, Harrison, Lapeer, Mount Pleasant, Onaway, Port Huron and Saginaw.

Most called for the legalization or decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

Voters in Hazel Park and Oak Park passed measures in August.

Voters in Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing approved proposals last year that call on police not to arrest people for possession if they are found with an ounce or less of marijuana, are at least 21 years old and are on private property.

State law bars marijuana use and possession unless it's medical marijuana.

USFWS

On Nov. 4, voters in 11 Michigan cities will consider legalizing small amounts of marijuana. That’s the largest number of municipalities to ever consider the question in a single election in the state. As Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reports, marijuana advocates think they can win all of them.

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Investigative journalists Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian present a book that explores the new landscape of cannabis in the United States in a book called A New Leaf: The End of Cannabis Prohibition.

Voters in 22 states, including Michigan, have said yes to medical marijuana laws. In November 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational use of marijuana.

Public opinion continues to shift toward policies that favor legalizing cannabis.

Yet, 49.5% of federal government drug-related arrests involve the sale, manufacture, or possession of cannabis.

In their book, Martin and Rashidian interviewed patients, growers, entrepreneurs, politicians, activists, and regulators in nearly every state with a medical cannabis law.

They analyze how recent milestones toward legalization will affect the war on drugs both domestically and internationally. The book is a unique account of how legalization is manifesting itself in the lives of millions.

Prarie Plant Systems

In Berkley, activists say they've now turned in enough signatures to put decriminalization on the local ballot this fall. 

The city clerk says they'll know whether or not the signatures are valid by Thursday.  

Berkley is just the latest city to consider the issue.

Similar proposals are already on the August primary ballots in Oak Park and Hazel Park.

And the group behind the petitions, the Safer Michigan Coalition, says it plans to turn in another petition in Saginaw next week. 

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The top lawmaker in the state Senate says he’s now on board with legislation to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, is now also embracing a bill that would allow state-certified patients to use edible and other non-smokable forms of marijuana.

Richardville was not a fan of the legislation when the state House approved it late last year. But he says that has changed as he’s heard more from supporters of the bills.

“This is for well-meaning people and it’s all for medical purposes. And [patients and caregivers] came and gave some moving testimony,” said Richardville.

“There’s so much to learn about that topic, and I didn’t know a lot about it. And I didn’t realize how difficult smoking is for some people and the different ingestion techniques that are important to them.”

Supporters of House Bill 4271 say dispensaries allow people to get treatment right away, instead of having to wait for a caregiver to grow and cultivate marijuana. They say that process can take months. Patients with certain diseases, such as cancer, sometimes don’t live long enough to get the benefits of medical marijuana.

A number of state Supreme Court rulings in recent years have made it impossible for dispensaries to operate the way they did when Michigan voters first approved the state’s Medical Marijuana Act in 2008.

Advocates say House Bill 5104 is also necessary because a recent Michigan Court of Appeals ruling limited legal medical marijuana use to smokable forms. They say children and people with respiratory illnesses should not be forced to smoke cannabis. Products like candies, lotions, and oils can produce unique benefits and some don’t produce a “high” effect, according to patients and caregivers.

Richardville chairs the Senate Government Operations Committee, where the bills sit now. He expects to move the bills to the Senate floor over the summer. He says a vote in the full state Senate could come as early as September.

Over the years, people have asked me why I haven’t taken a position on the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana. One man told me it was my patriotic duty as a baby boomer to do so.

I should have told him that all my patriotic fervor was invested in making sure that the music of Bob Seger and Mitch Ryder would never be forgotten. But unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough.

But I do feel that there are a couple aspects of the marijuana issue that deserve more thought. Personally, I don’t have any particular feeling about it one way or another.

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A package of bills before state lawmakers could make Michigan the very first state to adopt a roadside test that would tell police whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana.

Current law allows police to test the blood, breath and urine of drivers pulled over for erratic driving. The proposed legislation now being debated would add a roadside saliva test that could tell police if a driver is impaired by pot.

Cynthia Canty spoke with State Representative Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway Twp., who sponsored the legislation. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – More than five years after Michigan voters legalized medical marijuana, advocates say gaps in the law cause needless confusion and prosecution.

Two Republican House bills aim to clarify the law by legalizing dispensaries and edibles. Neither was directly addressed in the 2008 law, but court rulings have since judged them illegal. More than 100,000 patients and 27,000 caregivers are licensed by the state to use and grow marijuana.

Marijuana plants
A7nubis / Creative Commons

Michigan residents suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will now be able to get medical marijuana, marking the first mental-health disorder approved for medical marijuana use.

The decision came yesterday, as the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs signed off on the proposal from the Michigan Medical Marihuana Review panel.

As Michigan Public Radio Network’s Jake Neher explains, the decision is the result of months of deliberation.

How will the decision affect veterans who apply for federal benefits? Is Lansing considering adding other conditions to the issue?

Listen to the full interview above. 

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Medical marijuana is legal in Michigan. Voters overwhelmingly said "yes" to that in 2008.

But more than five years later, our state still hasn't figured out how best to get the cannabis into the hands of the more than 100,000 people who are registered as medical marijuana users.

In Mid-December, two bills were passed by the State House that made it easier for patients to buy medicinal cannabis. House Bill 5104 would permit manufacture and sale of non-smoking forms of medical marijuana – capsules, oil, brownies – which would help patients who have a hard time smoking the weed.

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The U.S. government no longer owns GM

The U.S. government sold its last stock in General Motors today. The government no longer owns parts of the company.

Medical marijuana bills could move forward today

"A state House panel could vote as early as today on some high-profile medical marijuana bills. The legislation would revive medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan and allow patients to use edible forms of cannabis," Jake Neher reports.

MSU student raises $3,000 for owner of flipped car

"A Michigan State University student has raised more than $3,000 to help pay for damage done to a stranger's car by rowdy Spartan fans after the school's football team beat Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday," the Associated Press reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A Flint city councilman is being held in the city lockup on suspicion of drunken driving and drug possession.

Police Chief James Tolbert tells The Flint Journal that Eric Bradford Mays was arrested for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and possession of marijuana.

Mays was arrested about 2:50 a.m. Saturday on Interstate 475 by police investigating a traffic accident. Police say Mays was trying to change a flat when officers arrived.

The Associated Press left a voicemail Saturday at a number listed under Mays' name.

Marijuana plant.
USFWS

One of the more intriguing results of the recent elections here in Michigan centered on marijuana.

Voters in Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing voted to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, and by large margins: Each passed with more than 60% of the vote. Voters in Grand Rapids, Ypsilanti, Flint and Detroit have passed similar proposals in recent years.

On the state level, Michigan voters approved legalizing medical marijuana in 2008. And a recent EPIC-MRA poll found nearly 80% of Michigan voters support ending criminal penalties for pot-related charges.

What’s behind this greater tolerance towards marijuana? And what could come from relaxing pot restrictions?

We talked with Melvyn Levitsky, a professor of International Policy and Practice at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy. The former U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria and Brazil, Levitsky also served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics Matters.

Listen to the full interview above. 

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1,300 Michiganders signed up for Obamacare in the first month of online exchange

"Health officials released a report yesterday showing that only about 1,300 Michigan residents managed to sign up for coverage through the troubled federally-run state health care exchange in its first month of operation," the Associated Press reports.

Michigan Supreme Court names Court of Claims judges

"The Michigan Supreme Court has moved quickly to name judges to serve on a revamped Court of Claims to hear major lawsuits filed against the state. A new law moves the Court of Claims from the Ingham County Circuit and makes it part of the Michigan Court of Appeals. The state Supreme Court tapped two judges originally appointed by a Republican governor and two appointed by a Democrat to serve on the new Court of Claims," Rick Pluta reports.

Senate approves bill for pot sales at pharmacies

"The state Senate has approved a bill that could clear the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan. That’s if the federal government decides to regulate cannabis as a prescription drug," Jake Neher reports.

Driverless cars might just be a futurist's dream-no longer. The University of Michigan has announced its plans to bring a fleet of networked, driverless cars to Ann Arbor by the year 2021. We have the details on today's show.

And the temperatures are falling and parts of Michigan have snow on the ground. We asked if winter has already arrived.

Also, the Farm Bill passed last January took an important subsidy away from organic farmers. What does the loss of this subsidy mean to organic farmers in Michigan? And does a farm have to go through the trouble and expense of getting certified to be organic?

First on the show, it's been less than a week since voters in three very different Michigan cities all approved ballot initiatives allowing small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property.

And that has pro-marijuana advocates hoping those votes will boost pressure on state lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize pot.

Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing correspondent Jake Neher joined us today to give an overview of what efforts are underway.

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It's been less than a week since voters in three very different Michigan cities all approved ballot initiatives allowing small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property.

And that has pro-marijuana advocates hoping those votes will boost pressure on state lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize pot.

Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing correspondent Jake Neher joined us today to give an overview of what efforts are underway.

Listen to the full interview above.

On today's show, we took a look at key election results from around the state, from marijuana to gay rights. How did you vote?  And what's the take away from Election 2013?

Then, we spoke with Michigan singer-songwriter Stewart Franke as he takes us inside his battle with leukemia.

And, we talked Michigan beer. A new film looks at the craft beer scene in our state.

First on the show, it has been quite a journey for a candidate who got booted off the primary ballot, was going to fold his tent and walk away, then was urged to mount a write-in campaign, swept the primary and today, is the new Mayor-Elect of Detroit.

Mike Duggan has become Detroit's first white mayor in 40 years, beating Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek has covered the Duggan campaign and was at the victory party last night. She joined us today.

Lars Plougmann / Creative Commons

Former medical center chief Mike Duggan will be the next mayor of financially troubled Detroit, beating Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon 55% to 45%. Duggan will be Detroit's first white mayor since Coleman Young was elected in 1973 as the city's first black mayor.

So, we heard from Mike Duggan and results from around the state, we looked today for some perspective on what these results mean for Michigan.

Jack Lessenberry - Michigan Radio's Political Analyst - joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Marijuana plant.
USFWS

Marijuana was on the ballot on Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale, and voters in all three cities said "yes" to decriminalizing pot.

Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody joined us today to talk about the impact of this vote.

Listen to the full interview above.

Lars Plougmann / Creative Commons

This Week in Michigan Politics Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss some of the highlights from Tuesday's election, including the Detroit mayoral race, elections on LGBT issues, and proposals to decriminalize marijuana.

Marijuana plant.
USFWS

Voters in three more Michigan cities approved ballot questions today decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

Ballot proposals in Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale each passed with more than 60% of the vote.

“This is an historic night ... a landslide by all considerations,” says Jeff Hank, who headed Lansing’s pro-marijuana campaign. “It sends a message not only to our local politicians, but politicians at the state level that it’s time to do something.”

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Detroit could have its first white mayor in 40 years

"A former write-in candidate once thought to have little chance of surviving Detroit's primary election is favored to become the city's first white mayor in 40 years. Former health care executive Mike Duggan is leading the polls over Wayne County sheriff Benny Napoleon," the Associated Press reports

Three cities vote on easing marijuana laws

"Voters in three Michigan cities have a chance to give some legal protection to users of small amounts of marijuana. Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing would ignore possession of an ounce or less of marijuana on private property. People must be at least 21 years old," the Associated Press reports.

Cities of Saugatuck and Douglas could merge

Voters in the two west Michgian cities could vote to turn Saugatuck and Douglas into one town.

Local elections across Michigan are coming Tuesday. And, there are also some interesting races across the country. The results of which politicos and prognosticators will be mining for hints, tips, and adumbrations (yes, we really just did use the word “adumbrations”) of what Election 2014 may have in store.

Elections in 2013, like in 2014, will be in the off-presidential cycle, with similar dynamics in play. Here in Michigan, we’ll have big statewide races next year for governor and U.S. Senator, and two or three congressional races that could be hot.

So, for us, 2013 is a kind of scouting report, a chance to look for any developing trends. Similar to January 2010 when Republican Scott Brown’s Senate victory in super-blue Massachusetts was a preview of the November 2010 national GOP blow-out. Brown’s win was seen as an early indicator of the election to come.

This Tuesday we’ll be watching for anything that defies expectations.

Republican Chris Christie is expected to win reelection in New Jersey and Democrat Terry McAuliffe is expected to win in Virginia; a state that was once reliably conservative but has become purple as its demographics change.

We’ll be watching for both an upset and the margins of victory.

If it’s a blowout, Republican leaders in Michigan will use that as evidence to argue for a more centrist approach to campaigning in 2014: Be conservative, but appeal to the middle. That could make a difference not just in primaries next year, but also the Republican nominating convention - where Tea Partiers have been pretty dominant lately.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, voters in Jackson, Ferndale and Lansing will decide if they want their police departments to focus less on busting people for small amounts of marijuana.

The results should tell us something about whether Michigan is getting more comfortable with pot.  

In Jackson, Steve Sharpe says volunteers have been handing out fliers and signs, talking with prospective voters and encouraging supporters to get out and vote.   

He admits he’s been waiting for opposition that so far hasn’t appeared.

“No one’s come to me and complained about this,” says Sharpe, who adds when he’s asked if he’s surprised by the lack of a sizable opposition, “I am totally surprised.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There’s a new idea floating around the state Capitol about how to boost funding for roads. Supporters call the plan “pot for potholes.”

Lawmakers like state Rep. Mike Callton (R-Nashville) would like to see the state legalize and tax marijuana and use that money to pay for road repairs.

“You can tax the heck out of marijuana,” Callton says, “put it into a separate fund for Michigan roads - because it doesn’t seem like that money is going to come from anywhere else at this point in time - and it’s a cute name, ‘pot for potholes.’”

Jake Neher/MPRN

Melody Karr says doctors have told her cannabis might not be helpful for the posttraumatic stress she’s suffered since her husband’s grisly suicide. She says they’re wrong in assuming side-effects such as forgetfulness could interfere with talk-therapy.

“The problem is not that I can’t think or talk about my post-traumatic stress and the issues related to it. The problem is that I can’t stop thinking or talking about it.”

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