medical marijuana

A scene in Portland.
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On November 4, voters in five Michigan cities voted to decriminalize marijuana possession.

  • Berkley
  • Huntington Woods
  • Mount Pleasant
  • Port Huron
  • Saginaw

These are the most recent cities to do so. But decriminalizing a federally illegal substance is complex. These laws leave a lot up to the interpretation of local law enforcement officials. 

Decriminalizing marijuana began back in 1972 in Ann Arbor, and has really picked up steam over the last few years. Here's an overview of the cities that have decriminalized marijuana in Michigan, when they did so, and what it means for residents and law enforcement.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan appeals court says workers can qualify for unemployment pay if they're fired for using medical marijuana.

  In a 3-0 decision Friday, the court ruled in favor of a hi-lo operator, a hospital employee and a furniture repairman. The court says there was no evidence that they used marijuana at work or that they had worked while under the influence of pot.

  Rick Braska, Jenine Kemp and Stephen Kudzia were fired after drug tests. All had medical marijuana cards. The use of marijuana to alleviate certain ailments was approved by voters.

miss.libertine / Creative Commons

Pot, meet your new friends: Michigan Republicans. 

All the signs indicate that the conservative legislature will legalize medical marijuana dispensaries and edibles this year. 

The House overwhelmingly passed the dispensary bill, which was a bit of a shock to the bill's sponsor, Mike Callton.

He's a Republican from Nashville, Michigan,and a chiropractor who's passionate about the benefits of pot for some patients with cancer and chronic pain.

But the first time he brought the idea up, he could barely get two co-sponsors on board.

Marijuana plant.
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The state attorney general is not saying why he opposes bills that would ease restrictions on medical marijuana in Michigan. Some top lawmakers are now urging Bill Schuette to detail his concerns.

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The state Legislature returns briefly from its summer break Wednesday for its only scheduled session day in July.

No full floor votes are expected in either the House or the Senate. But a number of legislative panels will meet to discuss a wide variety of issues.

The state Senate Government Operations Committee is expected to approve two high-profile medical marijuana bills. House Bill 4271 would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in Michigan. House Bill 5104 would allow patients to use edible and other non-smokable forms of marijuana.

www.misenategop.com

Michigan's Senators are taking a break from their summer break.

They'll be back in Lansing tomorrow.

The day will bring meetings of several committees and the full Senate might take a vote on a pair of bills dealing with medical marijuana and how to get it.

Jake Neher is the Lansing reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.

He said the first bill will allow local communities to say whether or not they want medical marijuana dispensaries and how to regulate them.

The second bill will change the state's medical marijuana act to allow patients to use edible and other non-smokeable forms of medical marijuana.

Neher said that the Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville originally was not interest in expanding the medical marijuana act, but after months of speaking with communities, he changed his mind.

The bills will be voted on in committee, but not in the full Senate.

Neher said there won’t be any movement towards fixing roads. They will look at trying to set up an early warning system for deficit school districts. Another bill being looked at tomorrow would ease driver responsibility fees.

*Listen to full show above. 

anewleafbook.tumblr.com

 

Investigative journalists Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian present a book that explores the new landscape of cannabis in the United States in a book called A New Leaf: The End of Cannabis Prohibition.

Voters in 22 states, including Michigan, have said yes to medical marijuana laws. In November 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational use of marijuana.

Public opinion continues to shift toward policies that favor legalizing cannabis.

Yet, 49.5% of federal government drug-related arrests involve the sale, manufacture, or possession of cannabis.

In their book, Martin and Rashidian interviewed patients, growers, entrepreneurs, politicians, activists, and regulators in nearly every state with a medical cannabis law.

They analyze how recent milestones toward legalization will affect the war on drugs both domestically and internationally. The book is a unique account of how legalization is manifesting itself in the lives of millions.

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The top lawmaker in the state Senate says he’s now on board with legislation to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, is now also embracing a bill that would allow state-certified patients to use edible and other non-smokable forms of marijuana.

Richardville was not a fan of the legislation when the state House approved it late last year. But he says that has changed as he’s heard more from supporters of the bills.

“This is for well-meaning people and it’s all for medical purposes. And [patients and caregivers] came and gave some moving testimony,” said Richardville.

“There’s so much to learn about that topic, and I didn’t know a lot about it. And I didn’t realize how difficult smoking is for some people and the different ingestion techniques that are important to them.”

Supporters of House Bill 4271 say dispensaries allow people to get treatment right away, instead of having to wait for a caregiver to grow and cultivate marijuana. They say that process can take months. Patients with certain diseases, such as cancer, sometimes don’t live long enough to get the benefits of medical marijuana.

A number of state Supreme Court rulings in recent years have made it impossible for dispensaries to operate the way they did when Michigan voters first approved the state’s Medical Marijuana Act in 2008.

Advocates say House Bill 5104 is also necessary because a recent Michigan Court of Appeals ruling limited legal medical marijuana use to smokable forms. They say children and people with respiratory illnesses should not be forced to smoke cannabis. Products like candies, lotions, and oils can produce unique benefits and some don’t produce a “high” effect, according to patients and caregivers.

Richardville chairs the Senate Government Operations Committee, where the bills sit now. He expects to move the bills to the Senate floor over the summer. He says a vote in the full state Senate could come as early as September.

Marijuana plant.
USFWS

The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear two more medical marijuana cases. Two medical marijuana cardholders want the state’s highest court to rule that a voter-approved law shields them from criminal charges.

In both cases, the defendants say the fact that they have medical marijuana cards should protect them from prosecution even if they did not abide by the letter of the law.

In one case, a cardholder who was also allowed to provide marijuana to two patients was charged after he sold pot to an undercover police officer posing as a patient. In the other case, the cardholder had more marijuana than he needed for his patients, and the plants were not kept in a separate locked location.

They both say the medical marijuana law offers sweeping protections to state-issued cardholders from criminal charges. Michigan’s medical marijuana statute was approved by an overwhelming majority of the state’s voters in 2008. More than 130 thousand Michigan residents have registered for cards. 

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Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette kicked off his reelection campaign today in his hometown of Midland.

In his speech, Schuette touted his record in office, including efforts to combat human trafficking and protect pensions.

“A record that’s strong and clear. It’s a record of being a voice for victims. A voice for the constitution and a voice for Michigan,” says Schuette. “It’s a long election and I’m going to win. I’m going to take my case to the citizens across the state of Michigan.”

Schuette didn’t directly address the controversy over same-sex marriage.

Robert Voit

LANSING – More than five years after Michigan voters legalized medical marijuana, advocates say gaps in the law cause needless confusion and prosecution.

Two Republican House bills aim to clarify the law by legalizing dispensaries and edibles. Neither was directly addressed in the 2008 law, but court rulings have since judged them illegal. More than 100,000 patients and 27,000 caregivers are licensed by the state to use and grow marijuana.

In This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the financial emergency in Royal Oak Township, the approval of PTSD for medical marijuana use, and how Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is going after energy companies accused of drastically bringing down the prices of oil and gas land leases, and why some people paid as much as $8 a gallon for propane this year.

Flickr

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. 

Dakota Serna served in the Marines during the Iraq War. He says memories of seeing friends and children killed left him suicidal after he came home. Serna says the only thing that has helped him get his life back on track is using marijuana.  

But that puts him on the wrong side of the law as it is currently written.

“Somebody on paper can say that I’m a criminal,” said Serna. “Somebody can come to my house and try to put me in handcuffs. But I’m not a criminal.”

David J. Ruck

Some Michigan medical marijuana patients and caregivers could soon be banned from smoking or growing cannabis where they live.

A state Senate panel approved a bill on Tuesday that would let landlords decide whether to allow tenants to grow or smoke medical marijuana.

“We’ve had a lot of apartment owners that have people smoking marijuana or growing marijuana, doing damage to the apartments, creating danger for other residents,” said state Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who introduced the legislation.

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Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill into law that clears the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan. But that’s only if the federal government reclassifies cannabis as a legal prescription drug.

There’s no clear sign that will happen any time soon.

Dark money bills go to Gov. Snyder's desk

"People who pay for so-called “issue ads” would be able to stay anonymous under a bill that has cleared the state Legislature. It would also double the amount of money people can give to campaigns and political action committees – or “PACS”. The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk," Jake Neher reports.

Three medical marijuana bills move forward

"Medical marijuana patients in Michigan would have more ways to legally obtain and consume cannabis under three bills that cleared the state House Thursday. A bill to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate again in Michigan and another to let patients use edible or topical forms of medical marijuana will now go to the state Senate. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate approved legislation that could clear the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan. That now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk," Jake Neher reports.

New petition drive planned against anti-abortion coverage law

"A campaign is organizing to block the new law that will require people to buy a separate insurance policy for abortion coverage. The Legislature approved the law this week. Because it’s a petition initiative, it will take effect next year without the governor’s signature. Abortion rights advocates are putting together a coalition to launch a petition drive." Rick Pluta reports.

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This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss marijuana and campaign finance bills and the appointment of the first female CEO of General Motors.

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.

DETROIT (AP) - Can workers who are fired in Michigan for using medical marijuana get unemployment benefits?

The state appeals court has agreed to tackle the issue in the months ahead. One case involves a hospital employee in Charlotte, Michigan, while another involves a forklift driver in Grand Rapids.

Jenine Kemp and Rick Braska were fired after their employers learned they used medical marijuana. Drug use violated company policy.

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