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Lawmakers say you can have your pot and eat it, too

Sep 8, 2016

Credit Garretttaggs55 / wikipedia commons

Medical marijuana clinics in Michigan would have to be licensed and pay sales taxes under bills adopted by the state Senate.

The licensing would be handled by local governments, which could also set conditions such as hours of operation or where the clinics can be located.

The Senate votes were a surprise as the question of how to deal with the proliferation of medical marijuana clinics has languished for months.

State Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, says supporting the bills does not amount to supporting the medical marijuana law, which was adopted by voters in 2008. He says there needs to be more control over the growing medical marijuana industry in Michigan.

“What we have now is totally out of control, like the wild, wild west,” said Jones, adding that local governments are looking for help and guidance from the state to implement and initiative that is often confusing and murky in its language. 

State Senator David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, said right now, clinics or “provisioning centers” are going up near “schools, churches, and liquor stores. Places that none of us want them to be, and these bills are going to finally give teeth to our local units of government to enact rules and regulations that are going to keep our children safe, are going to keep our communities safe, and frankly, are going to keep our patients safe, as well. 

Republicans split on the bills, but there were enough GOP lawmakers who favored the new rules to pass them with the support of Democrats.

State Senator Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, was among those opposing the legislation. He said the regulatory schemed to reflect the state’s rules governing sales and distribution of beer, wine, and liquor.

“Make no mistake that the end game of this legislation, with all its societal ills, is eventually the full legalization of marijuana in our state,”  he said.

The Senate-adopted bills would also allow marijuana-laced lotions, beverages, and food to be used and shared by medical marijuana cardholders. Medical marijuana advocates say smoking is not the best option for many patients.

The bills now go the state House.