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Prospect of marijuana legalization could help medical pot bills pass

Apr 30, 2015

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

Credit Garretttaggs55 / wikipedia commons

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

The legislation would create legal protections for medical marijuana dispensaries and patients who use edible and other non-smokable forms of marijuana.

The Republican chair of the state House Judiciary Committee says House Bills 4209 and 4210 could help create a regulatory structure that could also be applied to recreational marijuana.

“I don’t want to go back and there’s a ballot initiative and then we’re back at the same place creating a new structure to address these issues,” said state Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Twp.

“I think there’s overlapping issues anyway, whether it’s recreational or medicinal. And let’s knock those out together and also address the medical side.”

One of the sponsors of the legislation says law enforcement agencies are more willing to talk now that there are serious efforts afoot to legalize cannabis in 2016.

“They see the real possibility of legalization,” said state Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville.

“And many are taking the attitude that we should get some sort of regulation in place before that happens, because once Pandora’s Box opens up it’s going to be hard to shove her back in.”

Kesto says he hopes to hold a vote on the bills before the Legislature’s summer break in June or July. But he says there are a number of issues he hopes to address in the bills in the meantime. For instance, he says he’s interested in possibly putting a hard limit on the amount of marijuana in non-smokeable products. He says patients should know they’re getting a consistent amount.