Medical Marijauna Update PDF Print E-mail
Written by John McNamara   
Thursday, 04 February 2010 05:03

Last November voters made the decision to make the use of medical marijuana legal at the polls by over one million votes. Patients suffering from debilitating disease such as glaucoma or chronic illnesses or pain can apply for a prescription from a licensed physician. Patients who qualify could receive up 2.5 ounces of marijuana with incidental seeds and stems, or those with a specified primary caregiver could be given up to twelve plants to be cultivated. Those who were pleased with the passage of proposition one claim that if offers relief to people who would otherwise be in pain. Those who oppose the bill claim that there are not enough restrictions on the distribution and exactly who can posses what would otherwise be an illegal drug. They also argue that federal law does not authorize the use of medical marijuana, so doctors would not be able to write prescriptions and pharmacies would not be able to fill them.
The most recent opposition is a package of bills which has been rolled out in opposition to the bill, which would restrict the growth and distribution of medical marijuana. Those who are opposed to the bill claim that there is not enough oversight to prevent people from growing plants there would otherwise be illegal. If the newly proposed bills pass, marijuana would become a schedule two drug and people with a prescription or their care givers would no longer be able to grow their own plants. In lieu of self cultivation the state would authorize up to ten facilities to grow and distribute the drug much like a pharmacy. Those who support the original ballot initiative claim that the lawmaker's fix under the bill undermines "the voter approved goal of getting medical marijuana to those who need to relive pain or other symptoms". Even if the bill is enacted, it would not solve all the old problems, and it would create new ones. For example; James McCurtis of the Michigan Department of Community Health stated that states do not have the authority of change the schedule level of a drug and that if pharmacies distributed the plant it would put their licenses in jeopardy.

Bill proposals are not the only opposition to medical marijuana. Robert Redden, who lives in Oakland country, has a prescription for medical marijuana to treat his hip pain but was arrested soon after the ballot initiative passed; the case was dismissed in court. The Michigan Caregiver's Cup was designed to educate those with a prescription on how to grow, dispense and use medical marijuana as well to have a contest to judge the best brand of medical marijuana. The expo was organized by Anthony Freed of the Michigan Marijuana Chamber of Commerce. Freed claims that he is not breaking any laws, local prosecutors deemed the contest illegal citing that caregivers are only allowed to distribute to no more than five patients. The judging was moved offsite to a secret location, but prosecutors and law enforcement officials are still investigating. Freed says he will cancel the event if threats of arrest are made. Nathan Sands who is the spokesmen for the companion collation an activist group based in California, which was the first state of legalize marijuana in 1996. Sand's compares situations where people are granted the right to use marijuana but are barred from obtaining to Jim Crow laws. Those are for and against medical marijuana both have legitimate arguments, and most media outlets have remained neutral on the issue. Proposal one passed convincingly, but clearly medical marijuana is not going to become common place without a fight.




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Leah Brynaert is Health Care Fellow & Correspondent for the Michigan Policy Network. She is a first-year student in Lyman Briggs College at MSU.

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