Lansing, MI – A set of bills to legalize edible forms of medical marijuana and regulate the sale of medical marijuana through dispensaries are on their way to Gov. Rick Snyder after a final approval by the Michigan House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The bills work in concert to address the effects of court rulings that have left marijuana dispensaries and edibles in a legal grey area.
The bills would legalize and regulate dispensaries and establish a “seed-to-sale” tracking system for medical marijuana. In addition, they would legalize non-smokable forms of medical marijuana.
For Ida Chinonis and her daughter Bella, the allowance of non-smokable marijuana is key. Bella, 7, was born with a chromosomal abnormality and suffers from seizures. She’s improved dramatically by using marijuana extract, Chinonis said, and now that’s one step closer to being fully allowable under Michigan’s medical marijuana law.
“It’s a tremendous burden that’s lifted off our shoulders, to know that it’s fully legal now for her to be able to get her medicine,” Chinonis said.
The House first passed the bills in October of 2015. After a hold-up in the Senate Judiciary Committee the bills were discharged and passed the Senate with minor changes last week with minor changes, meaning they had to go back to the House for a re-approval.
Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, said stories like Bella’s have changed legislators’ attitudes toward medical marijuana. When he first introduced these bills more than five years ago, he could only get two co-sponsors. This time around he got 20.
Callton, a chiropractor, voted against the medical marijuana act but was swayed when one of his patients with cancer benefitted from medical marijuana.
“These bills are for the patients. They will help children with seizure disorders, they will help people with cancer maintain their quality of life,” Callton said.
Here are the bills the House concurred in on Wednesday:
- House Bill 4209 creates the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act to license and regulate the growth, processing, transport and provisioning of medical marijuana. The House approved it 83-22.
- House Bill 4210 amends the voter-initiated Michigan Medical Marihuana Act to allow for the manufacture and use of marijuana-infused products by qualified patients. The House approved it 93-12.
- House Bill 4827 creates the Marihuana Tracking Act and a seed-to-sale tracking system to track all medical marijuana. The House approved it 85-20.
A handful of protesters outside the capitol opposed the bills, saying they set up a system that catered to big, out of state businesses over local distributors. Getting licesned through the state requires a “pimp’s ransom,” said Steve Skully, who currently faces possilbe jail time stemming from the raid of his Gaylord dispensary.
“If you don’t have a ton of cash sitting around right now, you’re out,” Skully said.
Rep. Frank Liberati, D-Allen Park, spoke in opposition to the bills because they tax marijuana. Other medications aren’t taxed, Liberati said, and if lawmakers want to tax marijuana they should legalize it.
“I don’t think any of us in this chamber would argue sick taxes are fair or equitable,” Liberati said.
The Michigan Cannabis Development Association praised the legislation’s approval.
“This landmark legislation creates a framework to spark small business development, promote job growth and generate much-needed revenue for both the state and local communities,” said Willie Rochon, MCDA vice president and spokesperson.
“The legislation creates a state licensing board to govern the marijuana industry while respecting local control by allowing municipalities to regulate medical marijuana facilities under their jurisdiction. This legislation will serve as the roadmap for the medical marijuana industry moving forward, and we urge the governor to quickly sign this package of bills.”
The next step for the bills is to head to Snyder for signature. Callton said he was confident the governor would sign it because he’d been working with his staff in crafting the bill, “plus he’s from Ann Arbor.”
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Medical Marijuana Bills To Legalize Edibles, Regulate Dispensaries Head To Gov. Snyder
Author: Emily Lawler
Photo Credit: John Agar