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Medical marijuana distribution bills get overwhelming support in state House

Oct 7, 2015

Credit Troy Holden / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

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.

“This is not a criminal justice issue. This is a health policy issue. And even more so, it’s a moral issue,” said state Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, the lead sponsor of House Bill 4210.

“These people are patients, they’re parents – they’re not criminals. And it’s absurd that they would face prosecution for using the treatment method that they and their physician have determined best meets their medical needs.”

In addition, House Bills 4209 and 4827 include seed-to-sale tracking of medical marijuana sold through dispensaries and taxes those transactions at three percent. That’s on top of the six percent sales tax. Some activists who had long supported the legislative effort now oppose the legislation because of those measures, which were added in recent weeks.

But longtime marijuana liberalization advocate state Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, called the language a “good compromise” after voting against those parts of the legislation in committee.  The bills were changed a day earlier, reducing the excise tax from eight percent to three percent and making technical violations of many new regulations civil infractions instead of criminal offenses.

Lawmakers also added language to the legislation shortly before the votes seeking restrictions on edible pot products "to prohibit shapes that would appeal to minors."

The bills now go to the state Senate. Similar legislation also got overwhelming bipartisan support in the House last year, but later died in the Senate.