Medical marijuana dispensaries would pass the ‘grandma test’ under proposed bill

LANSING, MI —Now that medical marijuana reforms have passed the House, representatives could take up the issue of dispensaries. This week Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, introduced a bill to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, which he calls provisioning centers. The House on Thursday passed four bills with bi-partisan support that attempt to clarify issues that have arisen since the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act was approved by voters more than three years ago. The bills now head to the Senate. But the bills did not address a key issue: dispensaries. Many dispensaries closed after the Michigan Court of Appeals last August ruled that selling marijuana at dispensaries is not permitted under the medical marijuana act. The Michigan Supreme Court in March agreed to take up the case. Callton’s bill would allow for dispensaries that meet certain requirements. It mandates that dispensaries only supply marijuana products that can be consumed off-site. It would give municipalities the power to decide if dispensaries are allowed in their jurisdiction. If so, they can require licensing, testing, inspections and other regulations. Callton, a chiropractor, said he voted against the medical marijuana referendum not because he opposes the use of medical marijuana, but because he foresaw problems with its implementation.

One of his chiropractic patients is a 75-year-old woman with Parkinson’s disease who uses medical marijuana in order to sleep at night. He wants people like her to be able to safely access medical marijuana, but he’s concerned about unsafe, unregulated dispensaries and unqualified caregivers. He also worries that extra marijuana grown by caregivers ends up on the black market. So he crafted legislation to make sure the shops pass the grandma test. “The thought is that this 75-year-old lady or your grandma, when she goes in the pharmacy it’s a very safe place … that’s how safe I want a provisioning center to feel,” he said. Caregivers would be allowed to sell their excess product to dispensaries to take care of overage issues, he said. The bill appears to be headed in the right direction, said Michael Komorn, an attorney and president of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association. But he was not as supportive of the legislation that passed the House this week, and he’s not the only one with concerns — more than 150 people protested the bills at the Capitol last month. They say the changes infringe on patient rights.

“By amending the act it takes away the strength and the intent of it,” he said. He argued that the state should not attempt to define a bona fide patient-doctor relationship, which is required for medical marijuana cardholders. He also doesn’t want the law to open up patient registry information. That portion of the bill was tweaked to add more requirements for law enforcement officers or other officials to be able to access the registry and mandates that the state only give enough information to verify that someone had a valid medical marijuana card. “The only saving grace is that Rep. (Phil) Cavanagh fought hard to get that additional language for the right to present a medical marijuana defense in front of a jury,” Komorn said. As for the dispensary bill, Callton expects the judiciary committee to take up the issue. He said he worked with several lawmakers and medical marijuana activists, including judiciary committee chair John Walsh. “I did not just create this bill in my office and throw it out there … I did take a tremendous amount of input on this,” he said.

via : mlive

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