Medical Marijuana Law To Kick in Soon

Medical Marijuana Law To Kick in Soon
Posted by CN Staff on March 05, 2009 at 12:04:01 PT
By Joe Vaillancourt, Capital News Service
Source: Michigan Citizen
Lansing, MI -- Your arm hurts pretty bad. And since the Proposal 1 ballot initiative passed in the November elections, you’re thinking this might be the chance to get legally prescribed marijuana to ease your pain. Think again.Marijuana remains far from legal, and loopholes in the new law may create problems down the road, law enforcement and health officials said.
The initiative, which allows physicians to recommend marijuana permits for patients with specific diseases, takes effect April 4, said Department of Community Health (DCH) Director Janet Olszewski.“The law called for us to draft administrative rules that would give clear guidance for how we were implementing the program,” she said. “We have revised the rules and we are moving them through the final implementation process.”She said the department will issue registration cards to eligible patients or their caregivers to grow or possess marijuana. It will also provide guidance to physicians about their role.“They will not be prescribing medical marijuana. They will be certifying an individual as having a condition for using it,” she said.Melanie Brim, director of the department’s Bureau of Health Professions, emphasized the initiative does not make marijuana legal.“What the bill does is give patients with specific debilitating medical conditions the ability to apply for a registration card, which allows them to possess a certain number of ounces or plants,” Brim said. “It is not a prescription. It is still illegal in Michigan to sell it. It is still a federal crime to distribute marijuana.“What the ballot initiative does not do is provide an avenue by which you acquire marijuana. For consumers, that is still a major issue.”The DCH lists eligible debilitating conditions such as cancer, HIV, AIDS, glaucoma, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, and chronic or severe pain.The initiative does not say where an eligible patient could obtain marijuana.“The problem is that the ballot initiative had a gap in it,” said Michigan State Medical Society public relations director Dave Fox. “It doesn’t say how to get seeds or ready-to-use marijuana.”Fox also said a patient in severe pain will not want to obtain seeds and wait for them to grow.Because marijuana is recommended by physicians but still illegal, law enforcement officers are in a bind over penalties for users who are arrested.Crawford County Sheriff Kirk Wakefield said he expects problems to arise.“What the legislation thought was necessary is now creating a lot of problems. It is not user-friendly for law enforcement,” Wakefield said. “If they’re driving and under the influence of marijuana, they’re going to jail.”Unlike with alcohol, there is no way to instantly tell how much or how potent marijuana someone has smoked, he said.Wakefield said urine or blood tests may show positive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) results from previous use – yet another loophole. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana that gives one the feeling of being “high.”Steven Thompson, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Michigan chapter in Eastpointe, said urine and blood testing are not accurate procedures for determining impaired driving.“It should be based on a person’s driving performance, not if they have THC in their system,” he said. “If someone fails to pass a field sobriety test, then yes, arrest them.”Although marijuana laws have loosened around the country, it is still classified by the federal government as a Schedule I controlled substance along with heroin and ecstasy.Under federal law, Schedule I substances are deemed to have a high potential for abuse, are not accepted for medical use in the United States and have a general lack of accepted safety by medical institutions.“Because cannabis was put under Schedule I, people think it’s a drug. It’s not,” said Thompson. “Cannabis is a seed-bearing herb. Drugs are handmade for the purpose of being drugs.”Mark Steinberg, manager of the DCH’s Substance Abuse Contract Management Section, said, “One of the concerns we have with the medical marijuana law upon us is the general public, particularly young people, not taking marijuana seriously as a drug of abuse.“It is not a recreational plaything. It can really bite you financially and legally.”With the ballot initiative near finalization, Fox said physicians may be reluctant to issue a registration card to eligible patients.“Physicians are not necessarily protected if a lawsuit arises,” he said. “Also, physicians are scientists and like things to be proven effective. They like dosing and quality control. It puts a doctor in an awkward spot when someone requests medicinal marijuana.”Thompson said he doesn’t expect any legal problems to arise with federal government.“Under our present administration, I don’t see any legal problems happening,” he said. “Obama said he will not use federal money in lawsuits in states that have allowed medicinal marijuana.”While strongly opposed to smoking, the medical society’s Fox said his organization supports more scientific research into the effectiveness of THC.So before you ask your physician to recommend marijuana to ease the pain of that sore arm, you might want to ask yourself if it’s worth the risks that come with it.“It’s unknown at this point how many doctors will recommend marijuana to patients,” Fox said. “It could cause some issues. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.”Source: Michigan Citizen (Detroit, MI)Author: Joe Vaillancourt, Capital News ServicePublished: Thursday, March 05, 2009Copyright: 2009 Michigan CitizenContact: editor michigancitizen.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #5 posted by fight_4_freedom on March 08, 2009 at 20:42:45 PT
Here is the follow-up article that
the Flint Journal put out the next day after attending the meeting for themselves. It was a wonderful event. Seeing all the T.V. and Newspaper reporters there really made me feel like this movement is alive and growing. They went from having 30 some people at the first meeting to over 100 at the second. "For marijuana club, getting high not on the agenda"
by Bryn Mickle | The Flint Journal
Friday March 06, 2009, 10:48 PMMT. MORRIS TOWNSHIP, Michigan — I kept waiting for the cops to come storming in.Something just seemed wrong about the prospect of a bunch of marijuana smokers sitting around a bowling alley on a Friday night sharing tips on the best way to grow your own.With 1,400 pounds of marijuana that was headed for Genesee County locked up after a big bust last week, it seemed natural that there would be a need for more product.It quickly became clear, however, that this was not a case of desperate times calling for desperate measures.Instead of growing tips, I and about 50 other people in the banquet room at the Colonial Lanes bowling alley in Mt. Morris Township got a crash course on the state's new medicinal marijuana law.Here's what I learned:• You can have up to 21/2 ounces of marijuana if your doctor says it's OK.• Your doctor can't help you get it. Advocates of medicinal marijuana really dislike the terms "pot" and getting "high.I don't think that weed is evil, but I've never really cared too much about the legalization issue one way or another.I was among those who voted in favor of legalizing medicinal marijuana last fall, but haven't thought much about it since I don't have any of the ailments that it can be legally used for.Friday's meeting, however, was a clear indicator to me that the law isn't about some backdoor way to get stoned.Sure, there were a couple of people that showed up last night looking like lost extras from "Easy Rider," but there were plenty of people who clearly had serious health ailments.The average age of the crowd suggested they were there for bingo rather than a slide show on the differences between Sativa, Indica and hybrid marijuana plants.Tom Yeager, co-founder of the Genesee County Compassion Club, said the goal is making sure that people who need marijuana for medical purposes can get it.Judging by the meeting, it's obvious that some kinks still need to be worked out.
"Is there gonna be any smoking in here?" asked one man.Organizers were quick to say that not only would there not be any smoking of cannabis at club meetings, there won't be any selling or trading of seeds.Instead, attendees were encouraged to exchange phone numbers and e-mails to figure out such things on their own."Maybe we could use Amway as a model," joked one man. "Give prizes for the happiest neighborhood."The law allows for registered "caregivers" to grow and sell marijuana, as well as teach users how to grow it themselves.The Genesee County Compassion Club plans to eventually get into grow techniques, but one organizer said they are awaiting guidance on an official grow curriculum.With a 22-month window before state lawmakers can revisit the issue, proponents don't want to give anti-marijuana forces any extra ammunition.How far local cops will push the issue remains to be seen.Genesee County Prosecutor David S. Leyton said before the meeting that there is "no question" that the new law could make it very difficult for his office to go after recreational smokers and small-time dealers."The law does require that certain protocol be followed, but (the rules) are not too burdensome for people who truly wish to use marijuana, whether that use is medically beneficial and necessary or not," said Leyton, who did not attend last night's meeting.With both sides anticipating court battles on the issue, one would expect that compassion club meetings will continue to grow as more people look for guidance."You're going to need a bigger room," said Brad Forrester of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association.Maybe those grow tips will be covered next time.Bryn Mickle is the afternoon police reporter for The Flint Journal. He also writes this weekly "Offbeat" column about the police beat. He can be reached at (810) 766-6383 or by e-mail.
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Comment #4 posted by fight_4_freedom on March 06, 2009 at 21:33:35 PT
Over 100 people showed up for this
compassion club meeting tonight. TV and newspaper reporters scattered throughout. It was a wonderful event.
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Comment #3 posted by fight_4_freedom on March 06, 2009 at 13:05:50 PT
Another Article
'Hysteria over nothing'? Controversial Michigan medical marijuana law burning at both endsCLIO, Michigan -- April 4 is D-day, the day dope for medicinal purposes becomes a reality in Michigan.In November, voters passed a ballot proposal, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, that makes the medicinal use of the drug legal for qualifying patients. The measure officially became law on Dec. 4, but the state is not accepting applications for registry cards until April 4.Under the new law, patients that have been recommended to use the drug to alleviate pain and have successfully registered through the state will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Further, patients will be allowed to grow, or have grown for them, up to 12 plants in a locked and enclosed facility.Police Chief James McLellan schooled the Clio Commission Monday night on what the new law could mean for law enforcement in the city."I think it's bad law," said McLellan, who talked at length about the noxious affects marijuana dispensaries have had on communities. "I think the people who crafted this law were very cunning. In my experience, dispensing drugs has always been a profit-motivated industry, and I think it's just going to grow under this law."Clio city attorney Otis Stout echoed McLellan's sentiments."It seems like a license to allow for the manufacturing of marijuana, quite honestly," he said.Bruce Mirken, director of communication at the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington D.C., a major supporter of the Michigan Marijuana Act believes the controversy is much ado about nothing."(The act) allows the growing of marijuana in very specific, narrowly-defined circumstances for seriously ill patients with their doctor's permission," said Mirken, who admitted that the law was imperfect but tolerable in the absence of a federally regulated system. "I'm not sure what they are so worried about. It's not like Michigan is reinventing the wheel.""I think we should be proactive here in Clio," said McLellan, who alerted the
Entire Article
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Comment #2 posted by fight_4_freedom on March 06, 2009 at 13:01:01 PT
Poll with the article
Is a class on how to grow marijuana inappropriate?
No, perfectly acceptable 	65.4%
Yes, outrageous to teach this 	34.6%
Total votes: 211The new state law -- which contradicts the federal law -- raises issues for police.Genesee County Undersheriff James Gage was outraged that such a group would meet. He said not only is marijuana illegal, but evidence exists that smoking it can be dangerous."It isn't good for you, and it's against the law," he said. "If we find out where these people are, we may pay them a visit."Fenton police Chief Rick Aro said the law doesn't preclude officers from arresting people for possession."It's opened up a whole new can of worms, and I don't think it was well thought out," he said. "I think there will be people who will take advantage of this law."-You and the rest of your officers are more than welcome to join us tonight. The address for the location of our event tonight is listed in the paper. They act like we are trying to hide something.A few media outlets will be attending tonight. Should be quite interesting.-
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 06, 2009 at 07:45:02 PT
MI -- Group To Offer Marijuana Advice
Group To Offer Marijuana Advice, Patient Advocates Aim To TeachBy Elizabeth Shaw, The Flint Journal Friday March 06, 2009URL:
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