Michigan’s medical marijuana law has been abused, exploited and hijacked by pot profiteers and needs fixing, Attorney General Bill Schuette said Wednesday.
Flanked by a dozen legislators, police officers, prosecutors and doctors Wednesday, Schuette announced several bills that will be introduced in the Legislature this fall to close loopholes in a law he says was intended to provide marijuana as pain relief to people with terminal, debilitating and chronic diseases.
“This law has as many holes as Swiss cheese,” Schuette said. “It’s out of control, and we need to fix it.”
Medical marijuana advocates said it was telling that Schuette invited no patients to his news conference.
“I can guarantee that none of the people at that press conference voted for this law in 2008,” said Rick Thompson, editor of Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine. He said the Republican majorities in both chambers of the Legislature “don’t represent the true feelings of Michigan’s citizens.”
The bills the group intends to introduce would:
- Prohibit felons from becoming certified caregivers, and establish penalties for doctors who falsely certify a patient’s condition and patients who submit false information or use someone else’s card.
- Clarify what represents a debilitating medical condition.
- Prohibit driving under the influence of any amount of marijuana.
- Prohibit marijuana dispensaries within 500 feet of a church, school or day care center.
- Require photographs on all medical marijuana patient and caregiver certificates and an in-person visit with a physician with full medical histories before a certificate can be approved.
“We have a goal of protecting public safety while preserving the legitimate right of people who need medical marijuana,” said state Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia.
State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said he’d like to see a simple saliva test developed, similar to a portable Breathalyzer test, that would immediately show whether a person is under the influence of pot.
Thompson said there are commonsense changes that can be made, including the photographs on certificates.
But he disagrees with revoking a driver’s license if a patient is found with marijuana in his or her system.
“Detectable amounts of marijuana remain in the system for 30 days or more, far longer than any impairment,” he said.
Dr. Steven Newman, president of the Michigan State Medical Society, said the law passed in 2008 is poorly worded and led to confusion.
Changing the law won’t be easy. Many of the bills would require a three-fourths majority in the state House and Senate. Voters passed the law 63%-37%. Some 80,829 Michigan residents are certified to receive medical marijuana, according the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
– Article Originally from The Detroit Free Press.