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Michigan residents suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will now be able to get medical marijuana, marking the first mental-health disorder approved for medical marijuana use.

The decision came yesterday, as the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs signed off on the proposal from the Michigan Medical Marihuana Review panel.

As Michigan Public Radio Network’s Jake Neher explains, the decision is the result of months of deliberation.

How will the decision affect veterans who apply for federal benefits? Is Lansing considering adding other conditions to the issue?

Listen to the full interview above. 

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Medical marijuana is legal in Michigan. Voters overwhelmingly said "yes" to that in 2008.

But more than five years later, our state still hasn't figured out how best to get the cannabis into the hands of the more than 100,000 people who are registered as medical marijuana users.

In Mid-December, two bills were passed by the State House that made it easier for patients to buy medicinal cannabis. House Bill 5104 would permit manufacture and sale of non-smoking forms of medical marijuana – capsules, oil, brownies – which would help patients who have a hard time smoking the weed.

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The U.S. government no longer owns GM

The U.S. government sold its last stock in General Motors today. The government no longer owns parts of the company.

Medical marijuana bills could move forward today

"A state House panel could vote as early as today on some high-profile medical marijuana bills. The legislation would revive medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan and allow patients to use edible forms of cannabis," Jake Neher reports.

MSU student raises $3,000 for owner of flipped car

"A Michigan State University student has raised more than $3,000 to help pay for damage done to a stranger's car by rowdy Spartan fans after the school's football team beat Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday," the Associated Press reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A Flint city councilman is being held in the city lockup on suspicion of drunken driving and drug possession.

Police Chief James Tolbert tells The Flint Journal that Eric Bradford Mays was arrested for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and possession of marijuana.

Mays was arrested about 2:50 a.m. Saturday on Interstate 475 by police investigating a traffic accident. Police say Mays was trying to change a flat when officers arrived.

The Associated Press left a voicemail Saturday at a number listed under Mays' name.

Marijuana plant.

One of the more intriguing results of the recent elections here in Michigan centered on marijuana.

Voters in Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing voted to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, and by large margins: Each passed with more than 60% of the vote. Voters in Grand Rapids, Ypsilanti, Flint and Detroit have passed similar proposals in recent years.

On the state level, Michigan voters approved legalizing medical marijuana in 2008. And a recent EPIC-MRA poll found nearly 80% of Michigan voters support ending criminal penalties for pot-related charges.

What’s behind this greater tolerance towards marijuana? And what could come from relaxing pot restrictions?

We talked with Melvyn Levitsky, a professor of International Policy and Practice at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy. The former U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria and Brazil, Levitsky also served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics Matters.

Listen to the full interview above. 

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1,300 Michiganders signed up for Obamacare in the first month of online exchange

"Health officials released a report yesterday showing that only about 1,300 Michigan residents managed to sign up for coverage through the troubled federally-run state health care exchange in its first month of operation," the Associated Press reports.

Michigan Supreme Court names Court of Claims judges

"The Michigan Supreme Court has moved quickly to name judges to serve on a revamped Court of Claims to hear major lawsuits filed against the state. A new law moves the Court of Claims from the Ingham County Circuit and makes it part of the Michigan Court of Appeals. The state Supreme Court tapped two judges originally appointed by a Republican governor and two appointed by a Democrat to serve on the new Court of Claims," Rick Pluta reports.

Senate approves bill for pot sales at pharmacies

"The state Senate has approved a bill that could clear the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan. That’s if the federal government decides to regulate cannabis as a prescription drug," Jake Neher reports.

Driverless cars might just be a futurist's dream-no longer. The University of Michigan has announced its plans to bring a fleet of networked, driverless cars to Ann Arbor by the year 2021. We have the details on today's show.

And the temperatures are falling and parts of Michigan have snow on the ground. We asked if winter has already arrived.

Also, the Farm Bill passed last January took an important subsidy away from organic farmers. What does the loss of this subsidy mean to organic farmers in Michigan? And does a farm have to go through the trouble and expense of getting certified to be organic?

First on the show, it's been less than a week since voters in three very different Michigan cities all approved ballot initiatives allowing small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property.

And that has pro-marijuana advocates hoping those votes will boost pressure on state lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize pot.

Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing correspondent Jake Neher joined us today to give an overview of what efforts are underway.

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It's been less than a week since voters in three very different Michigan cities all approved ballot initiatives allowing small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property.

And that has pro-marijuana advocates hoping those votes will boost pressure on state lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize pot.

Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing correspondent Jake Neher joined us today to give an overview of what efforts are underway.

Listen to the full interview above.

On today's show, we took a look at key election results from around the state, from marijuana to gay rights. How did you vote?  And what's the take away from Election 2013?

Then, we spoke with Michigan singer-songwriter Stewart Franke as he takes us inside his battle with leukemia.

And, we talked Michigan beer. A new film looks at the craft beer scene in our state.

First on the show, it has been quite a journey for a candidate who got booted off the primary ballot, was going to fold his tent and walk away, then was urged to mount a write-in campaign, swept the primary and today, is the new Mayor-Elect of Detroit.

Mike Duggan has become Detroit's first white mayor in 40 years, beating Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek has covered the Duggan campaign and was at the victory party last night. She joined us today.

Lars Plougmann / Creative Commons

Former medical center chief Mike Duggan will be the next mayor of financially troubled Detroit, beating Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon 55% to 45%. Duggan will be Detroit's first white mayor since Coleman Young was elected in 1973 as the city's first black mayor.

So, we heard from Mike Duggan and results from around the state, we looked today for some perspective on what these results mean for Michigan.

Jack Lessenberry - Michigan Radio's Political Analyst - joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Marijuana plant.

Marijuana was on the ballot on Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale, and voters in all three cities said "yes" to decriminalizing pot.

Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody joined us today to talk about the impact of this vote.

Listen to the full interview above.

Lars Plougmann / Creative Commons

This Week in Michigan Politics Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss some of the highlights from Tuesday's election, including the Detroit mayoral race, elections on LGBT issues, and proposals to decriminalize marijuana.

Marijuana plant.

Voters in three more Michigan cities approved ballot questions today decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

Ballot proposals in Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale each passed with more than 60% of the vote.

“This is an historic night ... a landslide by all considerations,” says Jeff Hank, who headed Lansing’s pro-marijuana campaign. “It sends a message not only to our local politicians, but politicians at the state level that it’s time to do something.”

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Detroit could have its first white mayor in 40 years

"A former write-in candidate once thought to have little chance of surviving Detroit's primary election is favored to become the city's first white mayor in 40 years. Former health care executive Mike Duggan is leading the polls over Wayne County sheriff Benny Napoleon," the Associated Press reports

Three cities vote on easing marijuana laws

"Voters in three Michigan cities have a chance to give some legal protection to users of small amounts of marijuana. Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing would ignore possession of an ounce or less of marijuana on private property. People must be at least 21 years old," the Associated Press reports.

Cities of Saugatuck and Douglas could merge

Voters in the two west Michgian cities could vote to turn Saugatuck and Douglas into one town.

Local elections across Michigan are coming Tuesday. And, there are also some interesting races across the country. The results of which politicos and prognosticators will be mining for hints, tips, and adumbrations (yes, we really just did use the word “adumbrations”) of what Election 2014 may have in store.

Elections in 2013, like in 2014, will be in the off-presidential cycle, with similar dynamics in play. Here in Michigan, we’ll have big statewide races next year for governor and U.S. Senator, and two or three congressional races that could be hot.

So, for us, 2013 is a kind of scouting report, a chance to look for any developing trends. Similar to January 2010 when Republican Scott Brown’s Senate victory in super-blue Massachusetts was a preview of the November 2010 national GOP blow-out. Brown’s win was seen as an early indicator of the election to come.

This Tuesday we’ll be watching for anything that defies expectations.

Republican Chris Christie is expected to win reelection in New Jersey and Democrat Terry McAuliffe is expected to win in Virginia; a state that was once reliably conservative but has become purple as its demographics change.

We’ll be watching for both an upset and the margins of victory.

If it’s a blowout, Republican leaders in Michigan will use that as evidence to argue for a more centrist approach to campaigning in 2014: Be conservative, but appeal to the middle. That could make a difference not just in primaries next year, but also the Republican nominating convention - where Tea Partiers have been pretty dominant lately.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, voters in Jackson, Ferndale and Lansing will decide if they want their police departments to focus less on busting people for small amounts of marijuana.

The results should tell us something about whether Michigan is getting more comfortable with pot.  

In Jackson, Steve Sharpe says volunteers have been handing out fliers and signs, talking with prospective voters and encouraging supporters to get out and vote.   

He admits he’s been waiting for opposition that so far hasn’t appeared.

“No one’s come to me and complained about this,” says Sharpe, who adds when he’s asked if he’s surprised by the lack of a sizable opposition, “I am totally surprised.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There’s a new idea floating around the state Capitol about how to boost funding for roads. Supporters call the plan “pot for potholes.”

Lawmakers like state Rep. Mike Callton (R-Nashville) would like to see the state legalize and tax marijuana and use that money to pay for road repairs.

“You can tax the heck out of marijuana,” Callton says, “put it into a separate fund for Michigan roads - because it doesn’t seem like that money is going to come from anywhere else at this point in time - and it’s a cute name, ‘pot for potholes.’”

Jake Neher/MPRN

Melody Karr says doctors have told her cannabis might not be helpful for the posttraumatic stress she’s suffered since her husband’s grisly suicide. She says they’re wrong in assuming side-effects such as forgetfulness could interfere with talk-therapy.

“The problem is not that I can’t think or talk about my post-traumatic stress and the issues related to it. The problem is that I can’t stop thinking or talking about it.”

Organizers of a campaign hope you notice more $2 bills in circulation.
U.S. Government / Wikipedia

  Last Wednesday, medical marijuana groups started a campaign that they hope will shed light on the economic impact of the marijuana industry.

They want supporters of medical marijuana and cannabis legalization to spend at least one $2 for every cash purchase.

Organizers hope that placing more $2 bills in circulation will show the economic impact of medical marijuana.

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Blacks are 3.3 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in Michigan, according to a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The study shows Michigan’s racial discrepancy is close to the national average, despite the fact that blacks and whites use marijuana at roughly equal rates.

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This week, police in Grand Rapids began a pilot program to treat marijuana possession as a civil infraction. This comes six months after voters approved an amendment to decriminalize pot.

In Michigan, if you've got an aching back or live in Grand Rapids or Ann Arbor, there’s less reason to feel like marijuana will get you into trouble.

For better or worse, pot is gaining acceptance. Our state is one of 20 in the U.S. where marijuana is either OK for medical use or decriminalized. In Washington state and Colorado, recreational use is legal. Increasingly, there are American communities like Grand Rapids where voters don’t want to spend time and money prosecuting offenders caught with a bag of weed.

courtesy of Leni Sinclair

It starts this week in Grand Rapids.

As of May 1st, 2013, if you celebrate 4:20, you’re less likely to get jail time.

Instead, you’re subject to a $25 fine for your first offense ($50 for your second, and $100 for three or more).

WKZO reports Grand Rapids police have issued tickets already:

The first tickets were issued Wednesday when the voter-approved ordinance took effect.  The first one went to a 28-year-old man from the northwest side of Grand Rapids, who was cited around 3 a.m. Wednesday.

The marijuana law in Grand Rapids mirrors the one in Ann Arbor.

The only difference is “selling marijuana” is not listed as a potential civil infraction in Grand Rapids as it is in Ann Arbor (organizers felt Grand Rapids voters wouldn’t be THAT lax).

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Nearly six months after Grand Rapids voters passed a charter amendment to decriminalize marijuana, the city is implementing the change this week. You can read the rules here.

The delay comes in part because the Kent County prosecutor sued the city when it tried to implement the change in December.

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Grand Rapids flood 3-4 inches away from disaster

"A National Weather Service water expert says Grand Rapids was 3 to 4 inches of rain short of a disastrous breaching of its flood walls when the Grand River rose to record levels after heavy spring rains. The flooding forced the evacuation of an estimated 1,700 people in the Grand Rapids area and began easing after a forecast heavy rain on April 19 failed to materialize," the Associated Press reports.

Proposed legislation would lessen penalties for marijuana possession

"Legislation pending in the Michigan House would lessen penalties for people who are caught with small amounts of marijuana. The measure makes possession of one ounce of marijuana a civil infraction, rather than a misdemeanor," the Associated Press reports.

Pelosi says Detroit doesn't need an emergency manager

"Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi took a swipe at the appointment of Detroit's emergency manager last night during a speech in Detroit. The House Democratic Leader said there doesn't need to be anyone else 'running the city of Detroit,'" the Associated Press reports.

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Bill to decriminalize marijuana introduced in state Legislature

State Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) has introduced a bill in the state Legislature that would make possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a civil infraction rather than a misdemeanor.

"Irwin says state and local governments spend about 326-million dollars per year enforcing current marijuana laws. Republican Representative Mike Shirkey is a co-sponsor of the bill, and Irwin says it has bi-partisan support," according to Michigan Radio's Joseph Lichterman.

Legislation to tie welfare benefits to school attendance approved by House

A bill that would take away the welfare benefits from parents whose children miss too much school is on its way to the floor of the state House. The bill would take an existing Michigan Department of Health and Human Services policy and make it state law. Republican Representative Al Pscholka law says it is an effective way to keep kids in school, but opponents argue the bill doesn't provide enough safeguards to ensure low-income families are treated fairly.

State superintendent Mike Flanagan to take over secret education work group

"Governor Rick Snyder has asked the state’s education chief to take over a controversial project that’s looking for ways to reduce school costs. The new project will be narrower in scope than one handled by a controversial group that met in secret and included members of the governor’s administration. Snyder says he wants the new group to consider ways to use technology to reduce school costs," Rick Pluta reports.

On today's show: We've been alloped by wet weather. We get an update from West Michigan on the cleanup of the flooded Grand River.

And, we find out just what's behind a new ranking that says Grand Rapids is one of the tops places in the nation to find a job.

Later in the hour, on this 250th anniversary of his historic council of tribes, we learn just who Chief Pontiac was. We talk with his great, great, great, great grandson.

First on today's show, Michigan State Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) formally announced legislation today that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Just what would House Bill 4623 mean for Michigan? Representative Jeff Irwin explains.

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State Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) formally announced legislation today that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Under House Bill 4623, being caught possessing less than one ounce of marijuana would result in a civil infraction with a fine, but not jail time.

Currently, Michigan's law classifies marijuana possession as a misdemeanor with the possibility of a heavy fine and jail time.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The City of Grand Rapids and a group behind the decriminalization of marijuana there are at odds over how to enforce the charter amendment voters passed in November.

In a recent court filing, the city argues police should have discretion, if not the duty, to turn over marijuana charges to the state. That way, offenders would be charged with a crime, not a civil infraction.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The City of Grand Rapids is waiting before it implements a charter amendment that decriminalizes marijuana possession. Voters passed the initiative last November.

But the Kent County prosecutor is suing the city to prevent it from taking effect. The prosecutor argues it’s against state and federal laws for Grand Rapids police officers to issue only a civil infraction for marijuana possession. It would be sort of like a parking ticket. Ann Arbor has had similar rules for decades.

The prosecutor tried to get a restraining order to stop the city’s administration from implementing the charter, while the judge heard the merits of the case.

But Kent County Circuit Court Judge Paul Sullivan said it was okay for the city to make the change before he decides the case. Sullivan declined the restraining order because he said the prosecutor couldn’t prove it would cause any immediate harm.

Mayor George Heartwell, one of a few elected city leaders who supported the charter change, said he was “pleased” by that ruling. In late January, Heartwell said the city would implement the change within about a month.

But now, Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom says the city will wait for a decision on the actual merits of the case.


A Republican state lawmaker has introduced legislation to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan.

The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled the state’s medical marijuana law does not allow dispensaries.

State Representative Mike Callton says that’s a hole in the law that needs to be fixed because it creates an unfair hardship on terminally ill people.

“The problem”, he said, “if there’s 126,000 patients in Michigan right now, and only one in three has a caregiver. So the Supreme Court ruling, by taking out the dispensaries, and I can see that it wasn’t in the law, it either leaves patients without caregivers to either go underground or go without.”

“This cancer patient, this AIDS patient should be able to go right to a provisionary center – which my bill is creating – and get that prescription filled right away, get rid of that nausea, get that appetite back, keep that weight up, and have that quality of life even though you’re dying,” said Callton.

Callton says his bill would also reduce the illegal sale of marijuana because people who grow more than they need could provide it to other patients through a dispensary.

The legislation would allow local governments to outlaw dispensaries.  

Similar legislation failed to win approval last year, but Callton says legislators from both parties seem to be more accepting of the idea in this term.

The medical marijuana law was adopted overwhelmingly by voters in 2008.