LANSING, MI — A Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill that would legalize medical marijuana dispensaries after the state Supreme Court said they’re not allowed under the state’s 2008 medical marijuana law.
House Bill 4271, The Provisioning Centers Act, was introduced to the legislature Thursday by Rep. Michael Callton, R-Nashville.
The bill would allow local communities to license and regulate “provisioning centers,” allowing medical marijuana patients to have access to their medicine.
Rep. Callton says that not allowing dispensaries is a hole in the law that needs to be fixed, as it is causing an unfair hardship on terminally ill people.
“The problem”, he says, “is there’s 126,000 patients in Michigan right now, and only one in three has a caregiver. So the Supreme Court ruling, by taking out the dispensaries, and I can see that it wasn’t in the law, it either leaves patients without caregivers to either go underground or go without.”
In the ruling issued Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court held that it is illegal to sell medical marijuana through dispensaries under current law, forcing registered medical marijuana patients to grow their own or rely on a designated caregiver, who is limited to providing for no more than five patients.
Last year, the same court ruled that collective medical marijuana growing is also not permitted under state law.
The 4-1 decision in Michigan v. Compassionate Apothecary upheld an earlier appellate court finding that the state’s voter-approved 2008 medical marijuana law does not allow people to sell medical marijuana to each other, even if they are registered patients.
The ruling, according to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, empowers county prosecutors across the state to shut down remaining dispensaries that sell marijuana on the grounds that they are a public nuisance.
The current medical marijuana law says registered patients can possess up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants in an enclosed space, but it does not mention dispensaries or otherwise say how patients might obtain their medicine.
According to the proposed bill, a Provisioning Center is defined as:
“Medical marihuana provisioning center” or “provisioning center” means a commercial entity located in this state that acquires, possesses, cultivates, manufactures, delivers, transfers, or transports medical marihuana and sells, supplies or dispenses medical marihuana to registered qualifying patients, directly or through the patient’s registered primary caregiver. Provisioning center includes any commercial property where medical marihuana is sold to registered qualifying patients and registered primary caregivers.”
House Bill 4271 would also:
- Establishe rules for caregivers and patients to sell any excess marijuana to a Center
- Identifies plants less than 12″ tall and 12″ broad as ‘seedlings’ and allows for their legal transfer
- Requires baked goods or other products infused with cannabis have the item’s marijuana content clearly labelled
- Establishes that only the stated weight of cannabis in those baked goods or other products can count toward a patients’s 2.5 ounce allowable weight (AW); currently, a one ounce brownie containing two grams of marijuana counts as a full one ounce when determining AW
- Visiting patients from other medical marijuana states can purchase and sell seeds, but not marijuana or any related substance
- Empowers municipalities with the right to regulate all aspects of Center operation, including requiring testing from a Safety Compliance Facility
- Allows LARA to restrict the Center’s ability to advertise in newspapers, billboards, the Internet
- The Act would forbid any on-site consumption of cannabis except for infused topical products
- Limits patients to receive only 2.5 ounces from a single Center in a 10 day period
- Requires Centers to keep records to verify the ten day waiting period, which are subject to municipal inspection
- It establishes both protections and penalties for following or breaking the provisions contained within the Act for both persons and Centers
The Provisioning Centers Act also allows for transporting medical cannabis from one location to another, sets guidelines for who can and can not be employed by a provisioning center, and establishes protections for cannabis testing companies, which are called Safety Compliance Facilities in the proposed bill.
Michigan lawmakers are also considering a separate proposal that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in the state.