For years now, Michigan has struggled with how to implement its medical marijuana law. Voters approved legalized pot in 2008, but applying the law has been fraught with complications. Patients, caregivers, physicians, law enforcement, local and state governments and the courts all have had different concerns. The challenge boils down to how to regulate the drug and how to get it safely and responsibly to the people who are entitled to it. In recent years, Republican State Rep. Mike Callton has been in the middle of the state legislature’s effort to move forward.
For about five years, Michigan’s medical marijuana law has authorized doctor-approved patients either to grow pot or to buy it from state-certified "caregivers." Now, the state legislature is looking at a second approach.
Currently, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act only allows patients with the need for medical marijuana to either grow the plant on their own, or find an individual -- known as the primary caregiver -- who is willing to grow it for them to do so. However, registered primary caregivers can only assist up to five qualifying patients.
Marijuana possession is still a federal crime, but law enforcement and prosecution has been extremely confusing in many states -- including Michigan -- which have legalized the use of marijuana to varying degrees.
There’s been significant movement at the state capitol regarding medical marijuana recently. The week before last, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled the state’s pot law does not allow dispensaries. But late last week, State Representative Mike Callton of Nashville announced he’ll introduce a bill that would allow businesses to dispense cannabis.
Stuart Dunnings Jr. is Ingham County prosecutor and among the many legal officials and police who’ve been frustrated by the vagaries of Michigan’s medical marijuana law. Robin Schneider is a Lansing resident and a legislative liaison for the National Patients’ Rights Association. They both help clear some of the haze around Michigan's medical marijuana regulations.
Michigan lawmakers have begun addressing the state’s often criticized medical marijuana law. Voter approval of the statute in 2008 has been followed by years of legal confusion over its enforcement. Last November, a State Court of Appeals ruling—People versus McQueen--led to the closure of many marijuana dispensaries and made the drug more difficult to obtain, even for cardholding patients.