Michigan House Moves To Clarify Medical Marijuana Laws

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The Michigan House of Representatives passed a package of bills Thursday, aiming to clarify the state's often confusing Medical Marijuana Act.

"The courts, the prosecutors, the police officers, the cannabis groups, ACLU, everybody agreed that something needed to be done," State Representative Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth said.

Michigan voters made medical marijuana legal in 2008, but the Medical Marijuana Act has been molded by varied opinions and rulings ever since.

"The way the law is written, you take three people and three people are going to interperet it different," Sergeant Dennis Hull, with the Ingham County Sheriff's Department said.

Adding to the confusion, Hull says, is the overwhelming number of people carrying patient cards and an equally overwhelming number of people transporting marijuana.

"What we're finding a lot is quite frankly they know what the laws are, but they tend to go over the law more times than not," Hull added.

Cannabis groups say that's because without legal dispensaries, patients have no safe way to get marijuana.

"We want to know that they can get their medicine tested and screened for toxins," Legislative Liason Robin Schneider, with the Michigan Association fo Compassion Centers said. "We also want to know that they're meeting in secure sites rather than parks and parking lots and back alleys."

Patients won't get legal dispensaries in the bills passed Thursday, but lawmakers say patients will see other protections. Among other things, a defined doctor-patient relationship for obtaining medical marijuana, clearer rules regarding transportation and a required photo ID for patient cards.

"You hear about these medical marijuana mills, you hear where a doctor gets a hotel room and just hands out certificates," State Representative Phil Cavanagh, D-Redford Township. "I've also heard advertisements where you just sign up for a certificate online."

"People that are truly in pain can benefit from this, can prove who they are and can prove they deserve this in court," Horn added.

Critics maintain the bills aren't protections, but an infringement of patients rights.

The legislation will now move on to the State Senate for its approval.

Another bill, that would legalize dispensaries in communities that want them, was introduced in the House this week.

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