Citizens not getting what they voted for in 2008Published 9:47am Thursday, April 18, 2013
Marihuana prohibition is thought to be on its last legs because most Americans no longer support it, but in the meantime, Michigan is trying to tweak what voters passed in 2008.
Four medical marijuana bills became law April 1.
Some significant changes include extending one-year registry cards to two years and establishing rules for doctor-patient relationships.
Voters endorsed medical marihuana use to alleviate side effects of cancer or chronic pain.
But the law left much open to interpretation.
Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz said in Dowagiac recently that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act “was well-intended, but there was a bait-and-switch. It clearly didn’t do what the public thought it would, which was to help grandpa and grandma get relief in the last stages of cancer. Instead, it’s become a party card for many of our youth.”
Lawmakers felt certificates were given too liberally over the phone or internet, so doctors must complete face-to-face medical evaluations of patients, review relevant medical records and assess their conditions and history.
This is meant to prevent out-of-state doctors from blowing in, renting a hotel room, writing a batch, then leaving town.
Amendments also mandate follow-up with patients after providing certification to see whether use of medical marihuana is working.
Bills received 75-percent support in December needed to amend voter-approved laws.
Applicants must show proof of residence, like a driver’s license or state ID, to get $100 cards.
There are more than 131,000 registered patients and 27,000 caregivers, who can grow marihuana for up to five people.
LARA, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, oversees the program.
A major change is caregivers will be disqualified if they have committed a felony within the previous 10 years or have ever committed an assault. The only requirement before was that caregivers could not have been convicted of a drug felony.
Michigan Supreme Court in January ruled the 2008 law does not permit dispensaries, although a Republican lawmaker since introduced a bill to legalize such shops.
Nationally, some very conservative Republicans are leading a charge in Congress to end Washington’s pot war at the state level.
The “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act” introduced in the House would shield anyone acting legally under state marihuana laws from federal prosecution under the Controlled Substances Act.
That legislation fits with poll data Pew Research released finding that 60 percent of Americans believe the feds should let states self-regulate when it comes to marihuana. The same poll found 57 percent of Republicans favor this approach.
GOP sponsors include Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan; Rep. Don Young of Alaska, who made news recently for recalling his dad employed “wetbacks” on their family farm; and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who once visited Cass County with Rep. Mark Siljander.
Rohrabacher was quoted as saying the bipartisan bill “establishes federal government respect for all states’ marijuana laws” by “keeping the federal government out of the business of criminalizing marijuana activities in states that don’t want it to be criminal.”