Michigan "Pharmaceutical" Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Senate

Michigan "Pharmaceutical" Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Senate

LANSING, MI — A bill that would allow pharmacies in Michigan to stock “pharmaceutical grade” medical marijuana passed the Senate Wednesday by a 22-16 vote.

Introduced by Republican state Senator Roger Kahn and co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, Senate Bill 660 would, if passed, reclassify medical marijuana to a Schedule II drug in the state, controlled in a manner similar to drugs such as OxyContin or Percocet.

It would also license facilities to grow the new “pharmaceutical grade” marijuana and distribute it through authorized pharmacies, such as Walgreens or CVS, and require strict laboratory testing for quality and dosage standards.

“Marijuana, if it’s to be medical marijuana, should be held to the standard of medical safety and of dosage predictability,” said Sen. Kahn at hearings earlier this month.

Even if passed at the state level, the proposal would require federal approval to implement.  Marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule I drug, and it would need to be federally rescheduled to Schedule II for the proposed law to take effect.

The bill was supported in committee last week by Chuck Perricone, who represents Prairie Plant Systems, a Canadian company that grows and sells pharmaceutical cannabis.

The bill is opposed by many medical marijuana patients and activists who support the Michigan medical marijuana program, which has seen many changes since first passed by voters in 2008.

Some lawmakers in opposition to the pending bill say that legislators should focus on fixing Michigan’s medical marijuana program, which has seen dispensaries come and go, while operating in a grey area of legal limbo.

“Why are we spending taxpayer time and resources for an out-of-state corporate constituent who may or may not come to the state,” said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing). “And we’re not doing squat for anything to help current constituents who cannot access medical marijuana.”

The proposal would not change the state’s current medical marijuana program, instead it would supplement it as a separate, stand-alone industry,  but some colleagues in the legislature see this as an opportunity to replace the state’s medical marijuana program.

Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) said he hopes the bill will begin the process of getting marijuana cultivation out of homes and into the hands of pharmaceutical companies, vocalizing the fears of many within the medical marijuana community.

“It’s time to get marijuana out of houses and put it somewhere else,” Sen. Jones said. “Let the pharmaceutical companies grow it and sell it in pharmacies.”

Additional legislation would be needed to eliminate the current medical marijuana program in the state.

Patients and caregivers enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program, enacted by voters in 2008, would still be allowed to grow and possess medical marijuana under current state law.

Those patients who would prefer the “pharmaceutical grade” medical marijuana in Sen. Kahn’s proposal would have to surrender their medical marijuana cards and would no longer be allowed to grow their own medical marijuana.

Under the proposed system of “pharmaceutical grade” medical marijuana, the Michigan Department of Community Health would be responsible for licensing, registering and inspecting facilities growing or manufacturing  medical marijuana.

Anyone wishing to manufacture, distribute, prescribe or dispense marijuana would have to obtain a license from the Michigan Board of Pharmacy, as is currently required for other Schedule II controlled substances.

An attempt to add an amendment to the bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for non-medical purposes was introduced by Sen. Whitmer, but the amendment failed on a 22-10 vote.

The bill now advances to the House for consideration. It has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, where it awaits scheduling for a public hearing.

The bill has advanced quickly since being first introduced on October 31.

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  • guest

    Anti-prohibitionist take heed: this is the future. Pharmaceutical pot for the rich, grown by big pharma for the purposes of quashing the whole movement. Say bye bye to medical/recreational pot. It was a nice pipe dream, but the movement is over.

    • Mike

      So surrender is the only option? How is that different that what we have now? Give up if you want. The rest of us aren’t quitters. And this will certainly teach folks a lesson about what happens if you let Republicans “reform” marijuana.

      What Michigan needs is what the voters approved in 2008 — medical marijuana without a bunch of complication or obstruction.

      • beezy78

        Totally agree. Here in WA, everything has been fine and dandy since ’98, then along comes the i-502, “legalizing” mj, with promises that the medical mj law would remain untouched… Well, it was all lies! Now patients right to grow their own is being compromised! Watch what you vote for, people…
        A 15- year-old law being GUTTED by a brand-new, recreational law.
        No.

        • Mike

          beezy,
          Gotta share your frustration, but remember it’s not I-502 that is attacking MMJ, its politicians trying to enhance tax revenues. That’s ridiculous on the face of it, so let’s make sure they get their fair share of the blame. What’s gone wrong from MMJ is the result of an abuse of democracy by politicians, not its exercise by the people.

          As both an appreciative recreational user before my accident and in the quarter century since I had no choice but to become a MMJ patient, I have always realized these tensions are present. But freedom is a struggle. You don’t get it wholly formed, although you deserve it. Hang in there, because someone else’s freedom is always a key component of one’s own.

    • beezy78

      Whoa! Submissive, much? I’m going to fight with every ounce of my being- no pun intended…

  • Kathy Stuart

    Pharmaceutical grade? What the hell do they think those home grower/providers are growing?
    This is what happens when people who are ignorant on a subject try to write laws on that subject.

    • Kallista Cole

      Yes and when Canadians try to change our laws for their monetary benefit,
      “The bill was supported in committee last week by Chuck Perricone, who represents Prairie Plant Systems, a Canadian company that grows and sells pharmaceutical cannabis.”
      Someone has their hand in Chucks pocket… Maybe?

  • purplediamond

    PEOPLE
    please start thinking in a different way. Legalization is NOT what we
    want. We want is decriminalized!!! HUGE difference. All this tax it up
    the ass talk is ridiculous. We do not need more taxes. We need JOBS!
    Decriminalize it !! Let it be sold buy who ever wants to & let the
    market set the price. The taxes should be no different then any other
    over the counter herbal remedy. You people are going to make it too
    expensive & then what was the point? Let us grow our own &
    others can have stores for those who cant grow their own.

    • Common Sense

      You do realize that under “decriminalization” you won’t be able to buy and sell it. Under decriminalization, criminal penalties are replaced with a fine for an offense that remains illegal. Nobody has decriminalized cultivation, and you can’t “decriminalize” sales — you can legalize sales, however. But sales of goods, for the most part, are taxed. This may include a sales tax, excise tax, “sin” tax, and of course income tax.

    • Mike

      Decrim is second-, maybe even third-class citizenship. Cop can take your stash and hand you a ticket anytime. That’s no freedom and it sure sounds a lot like prohibition to me.

      And how are you going to pay taxes on something that’s not legal?

      Legalize and every citizen has the right to grow their own.

      • beezy78

        Nope, not true. Look at WA state! After “legalizing” mj, NOBODY has the right to grow their own… At least if the LCB has their (corrupt) way… Medical and recreational MUST BE KEPT SEPARATE!!!

    • VJ

      De-schedule….NOT RESCHEDULE!!! If they reschedule it then they still look at it as a drug men want to regulate the hell out of it

  • gordonsoderberg

    This is an obvious attempt to reduce access and increase the price of what is an herb. It is ridiculous to suggest that MM should be placed in Schedule I or II. it is not addictive and has no long term side effects.

  • Kirk Sherrill

    Awful that these legislators are putting the greed of money before children’s health. I will be a strong advocate in protecting our rights to access. It’s a nonlethal and nontoxic plant.

  • derrick

    So is michigan gonna follow colorado and pass the bill for retail sale of marijuana to were you dont need a card you just have to be a certain age

  • David Asher

    This will never end until we put the jailers in the jails they built for us. Let’s put them there!!!

  • Pete Horst

    In ’71 Nixon declared war on drugs. The government lost the war. Since when do the losers in a war get to dictate the terms of their surrender? Instead, lets talk about reparations for all those who have suffered in prison for possessing an herbal remedy that is now considered not only harmless, but medicine. How about those who have been stripped of all their assets through non judicial forfeiture. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that, since Anslinger, this was simple deception and about nothing but money. Predators preying on those that were defenseless. Ok, you lost. It’s payback time, here we come.