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Medical marijuana bills coming down to the wire in “lame duck”

Nov 28, 2014

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.

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

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.

  

“Law enforcement is skeptical about doing anything until we make sure that those leakages are fixed. And I couldn’t agree with them more,” said Richardville.

“The difficult part is that there are bad players out there that are abusing the current laws and would like to continue to abuse them. And my major concern from the beginning was making sure our playgrounds and neighborhoods were safe.”

The Senate leader indicated that lawmakers could pass the bills in the coming weeks and then work to address some of the concerns later on.

“I think it can be done,” he said regarding the chances of holding a vote on the bills this year. “But I would keep my eyes on whatever we did because the bad boys are out there and they’ll continue to try to figure ways around good laws.”

The bills cleared the state House last December with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Advocates have been in talks with Gov. Rick Snyder’s office in recent weeks trying to win his support if and when the bills reach his desk.

A number of sources close to the talks have said the governor wants some type of statewide system for regulating medical marijuana dispensaries. Right now, the legislation leaves it up to local governments to decide whether to allow dispensaries and how to regulate them.