Activists call for marijuana legalization as state continues to sort out medical pot law

Sep 4, 2013

A state board is considering adding post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that can be treated under the state’s medical marijuana law. It will hold a public hearing on the issue Thursday in Lansing.

But many advocates say the board is a good example of why they’re frustrated with the state’s handling of the law.

A similar board already approved adding PTSD to the list of acceptable ailments earlier this year. But that panel was disbanded and its work mostly thrown out because the state said it improperly selected its members.

As the state continues to sort out the voter-approved law, some activists say they’re running out of patience. They say the state’s interpretation and slow implementation of the law is forcing them to seek full legalization of marijuana.

Activists rallying outside the state Capitol Thursday said recent court decisions and administrative rules have limited patients’ access to the drug.

Furthermore, Lansing resident Steve Green says some medical marijuana patients are going to jail even when they’ve followed the law.

“We’re just seeing a lot of people and lives being torn apart in the criminal justice system,” said Green. “People can’t afford the attorneys that they would need to defend themselves.”

Fellow medical marijuana advocate Alex Tabacchi - also of Lansing – said full legalization is the only way to make sure otherwise law-abiding citizens aren’t targeted.

“If we don’t do a full legalization, people are suffering,” Tabacchi said. “Too many people are suffering. And it’s time to put politics aside and put people’s rights in front.”

There’s a bill in the state Legislature to decriminalize marijuana. That would mean recreational users could be fined for pot possession, but wouldn’t go to jail. The bill, HB 4623, was introduced earlier this year by state Rep. Jeff Irwin (D – Ann Arbor).

State Attorney General Bill Schuette says decriminalization or legalization could expose more children to marijuana.