Supporters of Michigan’s medical marijuana program rallied at the state Capitol on Wednesday to protest recent court rulings and proposed legislative changes that would make it harder for some licensed patients to get the drug.
Protesters carried signs reading “Power to the Patients” and “Cannabis for Chronic Pain” while saying authorities may be trying to weaken the 2008 law approved by voters. Capitol facilities managers estimated up to 1,500 protesters attended the rally.
“I’m afraid that other patients are going to have to go underground to get something legal, and they’re a legal patient and have that card in their pocket,” said Robert Loomis of Quincy, who said he chooses to use medical marijuana to relieve chronic back and ankle pain. “And to go underground isn’t necessarily the safest way.”
Marijuana is approved to relieve pain and chronic ailments. About 100,000 people have state-issued cards letting them have 2.5 ounces of “usable” pot and up to 12 plants. Registered caregivers also can grow marijuana for five people.
A recent Michigan Court of Appeals ruling has shuttered many of the medical marijuana dispensaries that had popped up across the state. The ruling said the 2008 law does not allow people to sell pot to each other, even if they’re among those holding state-issued marijuana cards.
Michigan lawmakers and Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette are backing multiple proposals that could further define or change the state law. Schuette has said the current law has “more holes than Swiss cheese.” His stance on medical marijuana is one reason he faces a recall attempt. A Midland County panel on Wednesday ruled that recall petition language targeting Schuette is clear, allowing opponents to start collecting signatures in an effort make a ballot as early as 2012.
The proposed legislative changes would require stricter doctor-patient relationships and in-person examinations before a patient could get authorization to use marijuana. Other proposals would define who could be licensed as a caregiver and regulate or zone dispensaries, if they’re allowed at all.
Schuette wants to make it a felony for physicians to knowingly give false certification of a patient’s debilitating condition and to knowingly submit false information on an application for a patient or caregiver card. Other developing ideas call for cracking down on drivers who get behind the wheel with marijuana in their system.
– Article originally from Chron.com.