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Editorial: Time to Clear Haze Around Medical Marijuana

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Michigan voters left little doubt in 2008 that they support marijuana use for legitimate medical reasons. They said so in a voter referendum that passed easily. What they didn't really make clear is how medical marijuana should be bought and sold, and a host of other, smaller questions.

The result is a lot of confusion in communities throughout the state, from the people who enforce the law to those who should be allowed to use this drug with some restrictions. State lawmakers need to clear away the smoke on this issue.

The problem with the law is its vagueness. It allows the use of marijuana with a doctor's blessing but little else. There is no guidance in terms of how and where it should be bought and sold. One advocate for the law told us in 2008 simply that patients will always find a way to get marijuana.

While true, that's an invitation for the sort of confusion we are seeing now. Jackson, Summit Township and a host of other communities have put a halt to new marijuana dispensaries, where the drug can be bought, while lawyers seek out some clarity.

Speaking of lawyers, they are busy on other fronts, too. One criminal case, involving an Owosso medical marijuana user who is charged with a felony, reportedly is on a track that could lead to the Michigan Supreme Court. Other marijuana users have been prosecuted with felonies for offenses that stem from mere misunderstanding of the law.

And here's another one: Should a medical marijuana user be prosecuted for driving after smoking the drug? In our state, there's no definitive answer.

The medical marijuana law was destined to lead to some odd situations. There's still the fact that the drug is illegal at a federal level. It wasn't that long ago that federal officials raided legitimate clubs for marijuana users in other states.

Still, Michigan has created many of these issues for itself, starting with the voter referendum's silence on many questions. The easiest and most responsible way to end any doubts, and limit the legal cases, is for the Legislature to lay down some rules. Lawmakers could start by addressing a few questions:

- How should medical marijuana be bought and sold?

- If Michigan allows dispensaries, should local communities be allowed to say where they can and cannot open?

- The law allows users (or "caregivers") to grow limited amounts of marijuana. Are regulations on where they grow pot clear enough? What should be the penalty for good-faith mistakes?

- Should someone who has smoked pot for medical uses be allowed to drive?

There are some hard-liners in the Legislature who would like nothing more than to ban medical marijuana use altogether, but we believe the public's wishes must be respected. Michigan residents support use of this drug if it can relieve pain and suffering.

What no one has ever spelled out is the details. And as we are seeing, that ambiguity will continue to cause problems that will clog the courts and take up too much time of city councils and township boards.

Lawmakers have an opportunity to clear away most of these questions on medical marijuana. What's stopping them?

News Hawk- Jacob Husky 420 MAGAZINE
Source: mlive.com
Author: Jackson Citizen Patriot staff
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Michigan Live LLC
Website: Time to clear haze around medical marijuana
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