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Medical Marijuana Amendments Could Harm Michigan Residents

The goal should be to change the perception of medical marijuana and increase patient safety, not leave them open for more scrutiny and harassment. The new bills are a step back for Michigan and the Michigan medical marijuana act.
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LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 7: Marijuana plants grow at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center, a not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensary in operation since 2006, on September 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. A group of activists have submitted about 50,000 signatures in an effort to force a referendum on a marijuana dispensary ban in Los Angeles to take effect next week. A minimum of 27,425 valid signatures from registered voters is needed to let voters decide on the issue in March, and until the number can be verified, the ban will not be enforced. . The ban would not prevent patients or cooperatives of two or three people to grow their own in small amounts. Californians voted to legalize medical cannabis use in 1996, clashing with federal drug laws. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 7: Marijuana plants grow at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center, a not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensary in operation since 2006, on September 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. A group of activists have submitted about 50,000 signatures in an effort to force a referendum on a marijuana dispensary ban in Los Angeles to take effect next week. A minimum of 27,425 valid signatures from registered voters is needed to let voters decide on the issue in March, and until the number can be verified, the ban will not be enforced. . The ban would not prevent patients or cooperatives of two or three people to grow their own in small amounts. Californians voted to legalize medical cannabis use in 1996, clashing with federal drug laws. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Last week, Michigan's leaders passed a number of bills in a marathon lame-duck session, scrambling to push through controversial legislation behind closed doors late into the night. The bills included several amendments to Michigan's Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), in addition to an Emergency Financial Manager bill which was previously rejected by Michigan voters just over a month ago.

The medical marijuana bills passed include provisions that:

- Restrict how medical marijuana is transported, potentially creating a new crime
- Dictate workers' compensation or auto insurance coverage for medical marijuana
- Continue to attack the doctor-patient relationship, discouraging additional potential doctors from participating
- Encourage outdoor growth without addressing concerns of additional protections
- Disqualify some current, approved caregivers after previous long-term patient relationships

These stipulations do nothing to protect patients or caregivers, and seem aimed at creating more medical marijuana-related arrests.

Requiring a specific location for transport is absurd, and shows politicians do not recognize the medicinal benefits of marijuana, continuing to treat it as an illegal drug. Must you take the same precaution when picking up antibiotics or heartburn medication, locking it in the trunk and disallowing any passengers? These new bills are a step back for Michigan and the MMMA.

If legislators want to make a difference, it starts elsewhere than the Act. The program's $16.7 million surplus, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency, should be used to teach and retrain police agencies on new policies and procedures regarding medical marijuana. Patients and caregivers have created this surplus, they should benefit directly from it.

Several months ago, I spoke at a House Judiciary Committee Hearing, providing perspective on patients and medical marijuana. The goal then, as it remains now, is to change the perception of medical marijuana and increase patient safety, not leave them open for more scrutiny and harassment.

Legislators need to accept medical marijuana, its benefits, and understand that their constituents overwhelmingly approved its legality. Medical marijuana needs to be added as a provision to the Public Health Code, rather than viewed as an exception to criminal behavior in limited circumstances.

Legislators have seemingly caused more stress, fear and anguish for the very people who put them in office. The passing of the MMMA was an historic day for Michigan and a huge victory for those seeking a natural, legal remedy for their ailments. The continued attacks of the Act endangers Michigan residents and is an ill-fated attempt to over-regulate and destroy its original intent, which is to provide patients with the relief they seek through the use of medicinal cannabis.

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