medical marijuana

John Ter Beek is a medical marijuana patient in Wyoming, MI
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear a challenge today to a local ordinance that bans medical marijuana despite an amendment to the state constitution that allows it.

The city of Wyoming, outside Grand Rapids, enacted the ordinance three years ago. It outlaws any activity that’s already prohibited by federal law. It was directed at the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana amendment, which conflicts with federal drug laws.

The city says it acted within its authority because federal laws trump state laws.

Jake Neher/MPRN

Medical marijuana activists rallied in Lansing Tuesday to protest the removal of six-month-old Bree Green from her family last week. The activists say the state Department of Human Services (DHS) has targeted a number of medical marijuana users by taking away their kids.

Bree’s mother, Maria Green, is a state licensed medical marijuana caregiver. Her father is a patient and outspoken advocate.

Steve Green says he was elated that dozens of people showed up in support.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A medical marijuana cardholder has appealed a drug possession conviction to the Michigan Supreme Court. The appeal seeks clarification on how the law views putting marijuana or its active ingredient into baked goods.

   Earl Caruthers hopes the state’s highest court will reverse the Michigan Court of Appeals in his case.  He was stopped with some THC-laced brownies in the back of his car. He also had some pot in plastic bags, and was driving on a suspended license. But he’s only challenging a conviction related to the brownies.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

PTSD and insomnia patients urge medial marijuana panel to allow use

"A state advisory board heard overwhelming testimony in favor of approving medical marijuana for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia. The board is considering ailments not already included under Michigan’s voter-approved medical marijuana law," Jake Neher reports.

MSU pulls professor from classroom for anti-Republican rant

"A Michigan State University professor has been pulled from the classroom, after a conservative group posted a video online that showed him delivering an anti-Republican rant during a class," Steve Carmody reports.

Auction house comes to the DIA again

Detroit newspapers are reporting that Christie's Auction House visited the Detroit Institute of Art for the second time yesterday to appraise the museum's collection. Detroit's financial situation has raised concerns about whether the Detroit Institute of Arts' collection might be at risk of sale. However Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr has said he has "no plans to use art to relieve  the liquidity crisis that the city is in now."

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.”

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A state review board has voted to keep autism and asthma off the list of health conditions that can be legally treated using medical marijuana.

But activists say the panel is acting in violation of the state’s medical marijuana law. They say the votes were taken without proper public comment and that the board lacks adequate representation from the medical community.

Panel chair Matthew Davis says public comment was not necessary because the ailments had already been considered by a previous board.

“The public hearings therefore occurred as part of our process, specified under law,” Davis said. And then today, our review panel took another look at these diagnoses and the remarks of the public regarding autism and asthma.”

That previous board was dissolved by the state because its make-up also violated the medical marijuana law. The state says it’s working to fix the problem.

user r0bz / Flickr

A state panel will meet this week to consider whether new health conditions should be covered under Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act, but there’s a question over whether the board’s make-up violates that law.

The state dissolved a similar panel earlier this year. That board had already voted to allow patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease to use medical pot, but those conditions were never officially added to the list of acceptable ailments.

Now some advocates question whether the new board risks the same fate because it doesn’t include proper representation from the medical community.

Attorney and medical marijuana advocate Michael Komorn says it could be a setback for patients.

“It just seems to be more bureaucratic nonsense that has impeded the proper implementation of this law. And it’s uncalled for.”

Komorn says it’s critical to put a board in place that complies with the voter-approved law.

“I don’t know why the government can’t get it together to allow these other conditions - that people can receive benefits from - from moving forward,” said Komorn.

State officials say they’re working to fix the make-up of the panel.

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.

Neeta Lind / Flickr

A state House panel is likely to take up a bill soon that would revive medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan. Republican lawmakers are starting to take interest in the issue.

Earlier this year, the Michigan Supreme Court handed down a ruling that effectively stopped most marijuana dispensaries from operating in the state. The court ruled that the dispensaries can be shut down as a public nuisance. Now state lawmakers say they’re close to a deal on legislation that would allow and regulate the facilities.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Medical marijuana dispensaries could be revived in Michigan

A state House panel is soon likely to take up a bill that would revive medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan. Earlier this year, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled to stop most marijuana dispensaries; but now state lawmakers say they’re close to a deal on legislation that would allow and regulate the facilities.

Republican representative Mike Callton told Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher, “without the dispensaries, patients will have very limited access to medical marijuana.”

Free trade with E.U. could benefit Michigan manufacturing

Michigan businesses will be closely watching free trade talks starting today between the United States and the European Union. The proposed trade deal would open markets between the U.S. and the 28 E.U. countries. Rich Studley is the president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Studley told Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody, "an E.U. free trade deal would primarily benefit Michigan’s manufacturing industry."

Last chance to register for 2013 local elections

Today is the deadline to register to vote for the 56 local elections in Michigan this summer. Elections range from local primaries to school boards to city council votes. The Michigan Secretary of State is urging Michiganders to get out to vote in their local elections. Residents can go to their county or local clerk's office or a Secretary of State office to register.

Marijuana plant.
USFWS

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow suspicion-based drug testing as a condition of welfare in Michigan. People on cash assistance could lose their benefits if they test positive for an illegal substance.

As Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reported, it’s not clear how the bill would affect medical marijuana patients. 

To listen to the full story, click the audio above.

A group of Democratic Senators in Lansing have proposed a package of bills dealing with marriage equality. We spoke with state Senator Rebekah Warren about why she thinks now is the time to bring up these measures.

And, the library you may have grown up with is changing. We took a look at the new technologies changing the way we access information and what that means for the future of libraries in Michigan.

Also, Michigan gas prices are now the second-highest in the country. Patrick DeHaan, a Senior Petroleum Analyst, spoke with us about how this happened.

First on the show, state lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow suspicion-based drug testing as a condition of welfare in Michigan. People on cash assistance could lose their benefits if they test positive for an illegal substance.

As Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reported, it’s not clear how the bill would affect medical marijuana patients.

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On Tuesday, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana patients are not automatically breaking the law if caught driving after using marijuana.

Passed in 2008 by Michigan voters, the state’s Medical Marihuana Act does prohibit patients from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of pot.

But the law fails to explicitly say just how much THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, needs to be in the bloodstream for a user to be considered “under the influence.”

Which is why the justices offered this piece of advice to lawmakers: Set a legal limit for pot consumption, just like the blood alcohol content metric for alcohol intoxication.

user PabloEvans / Flickr

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).

John Ter Beek
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court says it will consider the legality of a city's zoning ordinance that prohibits the use, manufacture or cultivation of medical marijuana.

The court issued an order Wednesday agreeing to hear an appeal filed by the city of Wyoming in the Grand Rapids area. Justices want to know if the zoning ordinance is superseded by Michigan's 2008 voter-approved medical marijuana law.

Significantly, the court also plans to consider if the state law is pre-empted by a federal law that makes marijuana use illegal.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michigan Supreme Court to consider city ban on medical marijuana

The Michigan Supreme Court will consider the legality of a zoning ordinance that prohibits the use, manufacture or cultivation of medical marijuana in the city of Wyoming.

“Justices want to know if the zoning ordinance is superseded by Michigan's 2008 voter-approved medical marijuana law,” according to the Associated Press.

Right to work lawsuit allowed to move forward

“An Ingham County judge says a lawsuit seeking to repeal the state’s new right-to-work law can proceed. The suit says the Legislature violated the Open Meetings Act when it closed the Capitol as the bills were debated,” Jake Neher reports.

Lawsuit over criminal defense system proceeds

The Michigan Court of Appeals will allow a long-running lawsuit challenging the system of appointing lawyers for poor criminal defendants to continue.  

“In a 2-1 decision released Wednesday, the court says a lower judge was okay to reject the state's contention that the case shouldn't be granted class-action status. The suit says the rights of poor people have been violated because of the paltry pay for court-appointed lawyers,” the Associated Press reports.

Neeta Lind / Flickr

Two laws took effect this week in Michigan, one concerning abortion and the other concerning marijuana. The state Legislature passed the controversial bills in a frenzy of activity last December.

Let's start with the new bill concerning abortion. 

Chad Livingood is the Lansing reporter for the Detroit News and Chris Gautz is  the Capitol correspondent for Crain's Detroit Business. 

They outlined the new law for us, which regulates abortion clinics that provide surgical abortions. 

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michiganders evenly divided over right-to-work law

"A Michigan State University poll finds state residents about evenly divided over whether the new right-to-work law will help or hurt the economy. 43 percent of those polled say the law will help Michigan's economy, while 41 percent say it will hurt," the Associated Press reports.

Medical marijuana law changes begin today

More changes to Michigan's medical marijuana law goes into effect today. As the Associated Press reports,

"The measures define the type of doctor-patient relationship that is needed before medical marijuana use can be certified. For example, a doctor must complete a face-to-face evaluation of the patient. . . Among the many other changes is that state-issued cards given to people who have a doctor's endorsement for medical-marijuana use will be good for two years instead of one."

University of Michigan makes Final Four

The University of Michigan will move on to the Final Four in NCAA basketball. Michigan beat the University of Florida 79-59. The U of M will play Syracuse University Saturday in the national semi-final.

Marijuana plants
A7nubis / Creative Commons

The changes affect doctors, 131,000 medical marijuana patients and 27,000 caregivers, who grow the drug for patients.

These new changes were passed during the state legislature's lame-duck session last year. A super majority in the legislature approved the changes that affect the Medical Marijuana Act voters approved in 2008.

Changes for patients

Patients will have to prove they live in Michigan. They can do that through state ID, driver’s license, or voter’s registration card. Their medical marijuana cards will be good for two years instead of one.

hiphoplaw.blogspot.com

A Michigan medical marijuana facility is partnering with a member of the Grammy-winning rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to cultivate and distribute a new strain of medical marijuana.

The Flint-based medical marijuana dispensary "The Green Oasis" and Stanley "Flesh-N-Bone" Howse say their new strain, "Phifty Caliber Kush," has a noticeable floral taste and is an effective pain reliever.

The Flint Journal's Gary Ridley broke the story and has covered this unique agreement between the rapper and Flint-area dispensary over the last few days.

The Flint-area dispensary's owner, Anthony Butler, calls the new pot strain "the best of the best."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

More than a hundred medical marijuana patients and their supporters turned out for a rally in Jackson today.   They’re concerned that legal wrangling is getting in the way of patient care.

A month ago, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal.

The court's decision came in a case out of Mt. Pleasant.  

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Detroit closer to a state takeover

"A state takeover of Detroit has edged closer to reality, as a financial review team formally determined the city is in a fiscal crisis with no workable plan to dig out of it. State Treasurer Andy Dillon led the review. He says a 10-month-old consent agreement between the state and the city is not working," Rick Pluta reports.

State House approves bill to add more people to sex offender registry

"People convicted of crimes such as possessing child pornography and indecent exposure might soon be added to the state’s public sex offender registry. Lawmakers in the state House yesterday voted overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation," Jake Neher reports.

Bill would legalize medical marijuana distribution centers

A bill was introduced in the state House to legalize medical marijuana distribution centers in the State. This comes after the state Supreme Court recently ruled that the dispensaries violate the medical marijuana law and are illegal. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

House Bill 4271 -- titled the Medical Marijuana Provisioning Center Regulation Act -- would let communities decide whether to allow such centers and where they could be located.

Flickr/lavocado

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

Earlier this month, the State Supreme Court handed down a ruling that is being interpreted as making medical marijuana dispensaries illegal.

That February 8 ruling has marijuana users and the dispensaries essentially going "underground," relying on word of mouth.

Now comes a new chapter in Michigan's Medical Marijuana story.

State Representative Mike Callton, a Republican from Nashville in Southwest Michigan is sponsoring a bill that would let local communities decide whether or not to allow medical marijuana dispensaries.

His House Bill 4271 is being called "The dispensing bill".

State Representative Mike Callton joined us over the phone to tell us more about the bill and why he is supporting it.

Flickr/lavocado

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.

Bob Doran / Flickr

Since Michigan voters first passed the state's medical marijuana law back in 2008, there has been a lot of confusion and a lot of legal battles over just how to implement it.

During one court battle in 2010, Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Peter J. O'Connell wrote this:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan lawmaker plans to quickly introduce a bill to legalize medical-marijuana shops after the state Supreme Court said they're not allowed under a 2008 law.

Republican Representative Mike Callton of Nashville, Michigan says he's concerned cancer patients and others won't have access to the drug without dispensaries.

He says many of the state's 125,000 medical-marijuana users can't grow their own and there aren't enough caregivers to grow it for them. Callton says patients will be forced to go underground to find pot.

boards.cannabis.com

Ever since Michigan voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 2008, confusion over how to implement the practice has reigned. 

In one of the most significant rulings to date, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled today that medical marijuana dispensaries can be shut down as a public nuisance.

Update 4:51 p.m.

MPRN's Jake Neher spoke with Michael Komorn of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association.

Komorn said the ruling is a setback, but that it will be up to local communities to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries.

"I don't think, at the end of the day, that communities - and the people that are within the communities that are going to sit on the jury – are going to convict on these," said Komorn.

"The local authorities have made it clear that they don't want to, nor do they care about, this behavior. They don't find it to be a nuisance and it's not important for them to prosecute," he said.

Neher reports that Michigan State Attorney General Bill Schuette says he plans to send a letter to county prosecutors explaining how the ruling empowers them to close the dispensaries.

2:45 p.m.

After the Court of Appeals ruling in this case back in 2011, shutdowns and busts followed.

Now we're reading that some dispensaries are being advised to close their doors by their lawyers.

Emily Monacelli reports for MLive on the Med Joint Community Compassion Center in Kalamazoo County. After the ruling, the Center's founder, Kevin Spitler, said his doors would stay open, but that changed:

But less than an hour later, Spitler said his lawyer had advised him to shut down. He said he did not know how long the dispensary would stay closed.  Spitler has seven employees, including himself, all of whom are registered medical marijuana caregivers, he said. He declined to say how many patients they serve. 

"That means everybody has to go to the streets to get their medicine now," Spitler said of the effect of the Michigan Supreme Court ruling.

12:22 p.m.

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled today on a case heard before the Michigan Court of Appeals in August 2011.

In 2011, the Court of Appeals found that the Mount Pleasant dispensary, Compassionate Apothecary, was a public nuisance and in violation of the public health code, and that the sale of medical marijuana is not protected under the law.

Many dispensaries closed their doors after that ruling, waiting to see how police might respond. Some departments responded with raids and crackdowns, while others allowed the dispensaries to continue.

It remains to be seen what will occur in the wake of this ruling

The justices who signed the majority 4-2 opinion said their reasoning was different, but the conclusion they reached was the same.

From today's Michigan Supreme Court ruling:

Although it did so for a different reason than the one we articulate, the Court of Appeals reached the correct conclusion that defendants  are not entitled to operate a business that facilitates patient-to-patient sales of marijuana.  Because the business model of defendants’ dispensary relies entirely on transactions that do  not comply with the MMMA, defendants are operating their business in “[a] building . . . used for the unlawful . . . keeping for sale . . . or furnishing of any controlled substance,” and plaintiff is entitled to an injunction enjoining the continuing operation of the business because it is a public nuisance.

11:35 a.m.

We will link to the ruling once we have it.

Karen Bouffard writes for the Detroit News that Supreme Court Justices Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. and Justices Markman, Kelly and Zahra ruled that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act of 2008 only protects registered caregivers and their patients.

The justices also ruled patient-to-patient transfers of medical marijuana are not legal under the voter-approved law, appearing to contradict a Court of Appeals decision last week that concluded there's nothing illegal about a medical marijuana user providing a small amount of pot to another registered user at no cost.

Here's more on that appeals court ruling

10:43 a.m.

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court says users of medical marijuana can't buy it at pot shops.

The 4-1 decision Friday is the most significant court ruling since voters approved marijuana for certain illnesses in 2008. It means the state's 126,000 approved users must grow their own pot or have a state-licensed caregiver grow it for them.

The state appeals court declared dispensaries illegal in 2011, but enforcement has depended on the attitudes of local authorities. Some communities took a hands-off approach while waiting for the Supreme Court to make the ultimate decision.

The case involves a Mount Pleasant dispensary that allowed medical-marijuana users to sell pot to each other. Owners took as much as a 20 percent cut of each sale. Isabella County shut it down as a public nuisance.

Michigan Court of Appeals
Mike Russell / Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled medical marijuana users may share small amounts of pot without running afoul of state law. But that’s only if no money changes hands.

Courts have been busy filling gaps in Michigan’s medical marijuana law since it was approved by voters in 2008.

In this case, Tony Green’s defense against drug delivery charges was that he shared – without compensation -- a small amount of pot with another legally registered medical marijuana user. The appeals court said that is allowed under the Medical Marijuana Act.

The decision could be appealed to the state Supreme Court, which has already ruled patient-to-patient marijuana sales are illegal.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a couple more medical marijuana decisions in the near future – including one on whether the law permits dispensaries that charge some kind of fee.

user PabloEvans / Flickr

HASTINGS, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan appeals court says there's nothing illegal about a medical marijuana user providing a small amount of pot to another registered user at no cost.

The court agreed Wednesday with a Barry County judge who had dismissed charges against Tony Green. It's the first decision by the appeals court in a case involving marijuana that changed hands without money.

There is no dispute that Green provided less than 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana to Al Thornton in Nashville, Mich., in September 2011. Both were qualified to use medical marijuana.

The Supreme Court heard arguments last fall in a case involving cash sales of marijuana. A decision is pending. The appeals court in 2011 said such sales are illegal.

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