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Voters Have Spoken: State Needs to Clarify Medical Marijuana Law

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What's shaping up to be an extensive court battle between Muskegon Township and the Greater Michigan Compassion Club should never have happened.

State lawmakers should have acted before now to tighten up the state's three-year-old medical marijuana law and saved the taxpayers a lot of money in attorney and court fees.

It's been clear since the voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative to legalize the use of medical marijuana (63 percent supported it statewide, 67 percent in Muskegon County), that the law needed reworking to clear up some discrepancies – particularly with the distribution system, but also with patient identification and even how and where those licensed to grow marijuana should get their seeds.

Bills were introduced during the last legislative session, including a three-bill package by retired Sen. Gerald Van Woerkom, R-Norton Shores, to clarify issues but there was no action.

So communities have been left to their own interpretations. Some have banned dispensaries, while others are amending zoning ordinances to control them. As communities lift moratoriums established to buy time to write zoning ordinances, more debate has been created, which has forced the issues into court.

In Muskegon Township, officials are suing to close the Greater Michigan Compassion Club. The township claims the club is really a profit-making "marijuana distribution business." The township also claims the people buying the marijuana have no debilitating medical condition.

The club denies the charges and maintains state law allows "caregivers" to be compensated for costs involved in producing marijuana for up to five certified patients and that they can sell surplus marijuana to any certified patient, which is what they say happens at the club.

The suit and countersuits are expected to wend their way through the Muskegon County court system.

In the meantime, the Michigan Court of Appeals is reviewing an Isabella County case also regarding marijuana dispensaries, People vs. McQueen. And earlier this month, a Midland County judge ruled the state's medical marijuana act is unconstitutional. The cases he ruled on concerned modifying probation to allow use of medical marijuana by a patient on probation. This also could extend to workplaces that have strict policies prohibitting drug use.

Many other cases also are working their way through county courts across the state.

Since the beginning, law enforcement agencies have complained about the poorly written law. While patients have to register with the state – and more than 50,000 have – the cards identifying the patients don't require photos. In order to verify the name on the card, law enforcement has to call the state Department of Health during regular business hours.

And there's confusion about how registered growers are supposed to obtain seeds.

Straightening out these issues can't be that difficult. Fourteen other states also allow medical marijuana. A study of their laws probably would be useful.

Lawmakers need to act to assure the will of the people is met and that law enforcement and our communities have a clear, enforceable law to follow.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: mlive.com
Author: Paula Holmes-Greeley
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Michigan Live LLC.
Website: Voters have spoken: State needs to clarify medical marijuana law
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