medical marijuana

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The state House has overwhelmingly approved bills to overhaul Michigan’s medical marijuana system.

The legislation creates legal protections for dispensaries and for patients using non-smokable forms of cannabis.

Bill sponsors say patients should not face prosecution for using forms of marijuana that are safer than smoking.

The Detroit City Council is expected to vote on a medical pot shop ordinance in the coming weeks.

It would create zoning, licensing, and inspection guidelines for marijuana dispensaries.

The ordinance has been introduced, and is going through the Council's committee process.

Marijuana plant.

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss proposed bills relating to abortion and medical marijuana, what’s behind the $21 million lobbyists spent at the state capital this year, and the impact of a possible influx of Syrian refugees to Metro Detroit.

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A state House panel has approved long-stalled bills to overhaul Michigan’s medical marijuana system.

House Bills 4209, 4210, and 4827 would add protections for dispensaries and non-smokable forms of medical marijuana. But to get the necessary support from Republicans on the committee, the bills now include taxing and tracking cannabis sold through dispensaries.


The Detroit City Council could consider an ordinance to regulate medical pot dispensaries this month.

Council member James Tate says Detroit is experiencing an “oversaturation” of dispensaries, and that city leaders need to do something.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Patients with autism and Parkinson’s disease could use medical marijuana under a new effort to overhaul the system in Michigan.

The Michigan Responsibility Council (MRC) announced this week it will push lawmakers to make the state’s medical marijuana system safer and more accessible to qualified patients.

A button promoting marijuana legalization.
Danny Birchall / Flickr -

Everything you ever wanted to know about marijuana in Michigan was discussed this week on Stateside.

From the politics - to the business - to the potential downsides.

We sat down with reporters, business owners, and law enforcement to learn more about the topic.

Here's a quick rundown of what we covered:

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We’ve reviewed the movements pushing for marijuana legalization in Michigan, we’ve taken a look at how legal pot has treated Colorado, and we’ve heard the viewpoint of a medical marijuana caregiver in Ann Arbor.

Today, we get the law enforcement perspective.

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More than 50% of Michigan voters say in recent polls that they support marijuana legalization.

Two groups hope to put legalization proposals on the November 2016 ballot.

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When it comes to the issue of marijuana – to legalize or not to legalize – Michigan seems to be about where Colorado was not too long ago.

Colorado had over a decade to experiment with medical marijuana before legalizing its recreational use in November 2012, which Colorado Public Radio’s Ben Markus tells us gave the state ample opportunity to figure out how marijuana can fit into the political and business landscape.

“Medical marijuana was huge. The state then decided, hey, we need to regulate this thing,” he says.

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Getting high in Michigan has certainly changed over the past few years.

Voters legalized marijuana for medical purposes in Michigan in 2008. Soon, it could be legal just for fun.

A number of groups seeking to legalize cannabis in Michigan are working to put ballot proposals on the 2016 ballot.

Potholes are a familiar obstacle on Michigan roads.
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This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio’s senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Christina Shockley discuss another road funding plan, proposed changes for medical marijuana cardholders, and body cameras.

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A state board has approved adding autism to the list of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana. The Michigan Medical Marihuana Review Panel voted 4-2 on Friday to make the recommendation.

The final decision will be made by Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Mike Zimmer.

Garretttaggs55 / wikipedia commons

Attorneys specializing in marijuana law now have their own division within the State Bar of Michigan.

The state Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals have had to rule on several cannabis issues since voters approved medical marijuana in 2008.

The chair of the new division says it will make it easier to attorneys to keep track of Michigan’s complex and ever-evolving medical marijuana law. 

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A state board is considering adding autism to the conditions that can legally be treated with medical marijuana in Michigan.

Lisa Smith is the mother of a 6-year-old boy with autism. She says no other treatments have helped.

“As a last resort, I decided to try cannabis,” Smith told reporters after a hearing on Wednesday.

Medical Marijuana
Dank Depot / Creative Commons

The state is holding a public hearing Wednesday on a request to add autism to the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana. 

Lisa Smith of Van Buren Township filed the request to add the disorder to the list.

Smith said her autistic son's severe behavior stopped after taking medical marijuana orally to treat a different condition.

Colleen Allen, president of the Autism Alliance of Michigan, said alternative treatments for the disorder require more study.

Garretttaggs55 / wikipedia commons

Bills to expand access to medical marijuana in Michigan may be benefiting from efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016.

 At least three Michigan groups are already pursuing petition drives to legalize marijuana in 2016. 

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The state Senate has passed a bill that would allow landlords to ban tenants from smoking or growing medical marijuana in their rental units. Senate Bill 72 passed on a 34-3 vote with bipartisan support.

The legislation required a three-quarters majority vote because it would change Michigan’s voter-approved Medical Marijuana Act.


On Election Day in 2008, Michigan voters said yes to medical marijuana. The vote came despite federal laws banning the sale and consumption of pot.

Since then, local ordinances and court rulings have created a patchwork of rules on the medical marijuana front. Following a 2013 Michigan Supreme Court ruling, patients remain protected as consumers even though sellers no longer have a clear-cut legal protection to sell.

And since 2011, there’s been a drop in the number of patients receiving medical marijuana ID cards.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Confusion surrounding the legality of marijuana dispensaries and non-smokable forms of the drug are prompting lawmakers to propose changes to Michigan's 5-year-old law that legalized marijuana for medical use.

Bipartisan legislation would allow for "provisioning centers" where patients with a state-issued medical marijuana card could obtain marijuana.

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.


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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan appeals court says workers can qualify for unemployment pay if they're fired for using medical marijuana.

  In a 3-0 decision Friday, the court ruled in favor of a hi-lo operator, a hospital employee and a furniture repairman. The court says there was no evidence that they used marijuana at work or that they had worked while under the influence of pot.

  Rick Braska, Jenine Kemp and Stephen Kudzia were fired after drug tests. All had medical marijuana cards. The use of marijuana to alleviate certain ailments was approved by voters.

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Pot, meet your new friends: Michigan Republicans. 

All the signs indicate that the conservative legislature will legalize medical marijuana dispensaries and edibles this year. 

The House overwhelmingly passed the dispensary bill, which was a bit of a shock to the bill's sponsor, Mike Callton.

He's a Republican from Nashville, Michigan,and a chiropractor who's passionate about the benefits of pot for some patients with cancer and chronic pain.

But the first time he brought the idea up, he could barely get two co-sponsors on board.

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The state attorney general is not saying why he opposes bills that would ease restrictions on medical marijuana in Michigan. Some top lawmakers are now urging Bill Schuette to detail his concerns.

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The state Legislature returns briefly from its summer break Wednesday for its only scheduled session day in July.

No full floor votes are expected in either the House or the Senate. But a number of legislative panels will meet to discuss a wide variety of issues.

The state Senate Government Operations Committee is expected to approve two high-profile medical marijuana bills. House Bill 4271 would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in Michigan. House Bill 5104 would allow patients to use edible and other non-smokable forms of marijuana.

Michigan's Senators are taking a break from their summer break.

They'll be back in Lansing tomorrow.

The day will bring meetings of several committees and the full Senate might take a vote on a pair of bills dealing with medical marijuana and how to get it.

Jake Neher is the Lansing reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.

He said the first bill will allow local communities to say whether or not they want medical marijuana dispensaries and how to regulate them.

The second bill will change the state's medical marijuana act to allow patients to use edible and other non-smokeable forms of medical marijuana.

Neher said that the Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville originally was not interest in expanding the medical marijuana act, but after months of speaking with communities, he changed his mind.

The bills will be voted on in committee, but not in the full Senate.

Neher said there won’t be any movement towards fixing roads. They will look at trying to set up an early warning system for deficit school districts. Another bill being looked at tomorrow would ease driver responsibility fees.

*Listen to full show above.


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.

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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.

Marijuana plant.

The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear two more medical marijuana cases. Two medical marijuana cardholders want the state’s highest court to rule that a voter-approved law shields them from criminal charges.

In both cases, the defendants say the fact that they have medical marijuana cards should protect them from prosecution even if they did not abide by the letter of the law.

In one case, a cardholder who was also allowed to provide marijuana to two patients was charged after he sold pot to an undercover police officer posing as a patient. In the other case, the cardholder had more marijuana than he needed for his patients, and the plants were not kept in a separate locked location.

They both say the medical marijuana law offers sweeping protections to state-issued cardholders from criminal charges. Michigan’s medical marijuana statute was approved by an overwhelming majority of the state’s voters in 2008. More than 130 thousand Michigan residents have registered for cards.