Kalamazoo – Now that the Governor Snyder has signed what he called landmark bills to organize the production and distribution of medical marijuana in Michigan, what will that mean locally?
Snyder says “This new law will help Michiganders of all ages and with varying medical conditions access safe products to relieve their suffering, He went on to say We can finally implement a solid framework that gives patients a safe source from which to purchase and utilize medical marijuana.
It means that dispensaries are coming to Kalamazoo and probably Portage too.
Kalamazoo City Attorney Clyde Robinson says the legislation leaves the question of dispensaries up to local communities, but that issue has already been decided in Kalamazoo where voters overwhelmingly approved a charter amendment in 2012 permitting three dispensaries in town.
The voter initiative even set up a fee schedule and the spacing between dispensaries and churches and schools.
The state law calls them provisioning centers but Robinson says he isnt going to play cutesy with the words, I think the intent was that a dispensary equates to a provisioning center.
He says the city wont have any choice whether or not to allow dispensaries but the city will still be able to say yay or nay” to anyone who wants to get a state license to set up a business to grow, test or transport marijuana in the city.
Portage has imposed a moratorium on the two dispensaries that that have been operating as outlets for caregivers. Portage City Council Member Claudette Reid welcomed the states action. She told the rest of the council Tuesday night that she welcomed the new approach because I think it will be very beneficial to the whole state, and very specifically for the city of Portage.
But dont expect be able to walk into a provisioning center with your medical marijuana card and make a purchase anytime soon.
The new legislation does not take effect for 90 days. The state will need to set up the licensing and regulatory infrastructure, and a method for collection of taxes in that time period if they can.
Creating a new industry from scratch will require some planning, particularly because the new legislation requires that growers, transporters, testers and dispensaries all be owned by separate entities.
Attorney Robinson says he wouldnt be surprised if right out of the box a lot of communities says one of two things, either no we arent going to permit it but we will study it, or they will impose a moratorium. He says that would buy them time to work out zoning and other local restrictions permitted under the new provisions.
Portage is only partially through their six month long moratorium.
The new structure does not replace or eliminate the ability of a patient to grow their own or continue a relationship with a caregiver, who will still be limited to five patients.
It will however make it easier for new patients to obtain a supply quickly, or perhaps obtain a particular type of marijuana that may have qualities best suited to relieve their particular symptoms or address their diagnosis.
The new laws will also make it possible to security medibles and other delivery methods for THC, the active ingredient for patients who shouldnt be smoking, like children.
A cancer patient wont want to wait until that first batch is grown to begin receiving the benefits of medical marijuana. In some cases they may not have that kind of time.