Michigan Legislature to Consider Bills to Regulate Marijuana


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Rep. Jeff Irwin

Michigan Rep. Jeff Irwin believes in regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol, and he is now in the process of introducing a bill that would end marijuana prohibition in Michigan and treat marijuana similarly to alcohol. Rep. Irwin is now seeking representatives to co-sponsor this historic bill, and you can help.

If you are a Michigan resident, please take just a few moments to send a message to your representative to ask that he or she sign on as co-sponsor to this bill, which we believe is the first of its kind in the Great Lakes State.

Voters in Colorado support marijuana legalization more today than when their law was passed in 2012. Both national and Michigan polls regularly find majority support for this better approach.

In addition to Rep. Irwin’s legislation, three organizations have either begun gathering signatures for a legalization ballot initiative for the 2016 election or announced possible interest in doing so. For more information on the different efforts, take a look here.Whether through the legislative process or a voter initiative, legalization is the future of marijuana in Michigan.

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Another Michigan City Decriminalizes Marijuana


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Yesterday, 66% of East Lansing, Michigan, voters approved a local charter amendment to decriminalize marijuana possession and transfer by adults 21 and older of up to one ounce of marijuana. Under Michigan state law, possession of a small amount of marijuana — even a single gram — is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Unfortunately, East Lansing police could still choose to arrest under the harsh state law, despite the mandate from voters.

Please take a moment to ask your state legislators to bring East Lansing’s reform to all of Michigan!

This idea is hardly new. Nineteen states have already decriminalized or — in four cases — legalized marijuana. In neighboring Ohio, possession of up to 100 grams is punishable by a small fine, not by jail time. These laws save law enforcement resources that would otherwise be spent prosecuting and jailing non-violent marijuana users, allowing police and prosecutors to spend more time going after violent criminals.

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Michigan Lawmakers Consider Bills to Improve Medical Marijuana Program


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This year, the Michigan Legislature will again have an opportunity to pass much-needed protections for medical marijuana patients and providers. Two bills will be presented in the coming days — one would help ensure that patients have regular and safe access to their medicine through provisioning centers, and another would create clear legal protections for marijuana extracts, a key ingredient in tinctures, edibles, and topicals. MPP strongly supports both these efforts.

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Rep. Mike Callton

Rep. Mike Callton will again sponsor a bill to clearly allow and regulate medical marijuana provisioning centers. Rep. Lisa Lyons has stepped forward to sponsor a bill that ensures that extractions and the products made from them clearly fall under the definition of medical marijuana. Unfortunately, heavy lobbying efforts in the closing days of the 2014 legislative session by the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police and the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association succeeded in derailing these popular efforts late last year, despite the hard work by advocates and strong support from both legislators and the governor’s office.

The state’s seriously ill patients deserve better than a continuation of the same patchwork policies, and cities like Detroit have been particularly vocal about the need for reform.

If you are a Michigan resident, please take a minute to ask your representative to co-sponsor these important bills.

 

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Down to the Wire in Michigan Legislature


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We are down to the final two days of the 2014 legislative session in Michigan, and this is the last opportunity to pass two critically important bills. HB 5104 would protect patients who consume non-smoked forms of marijuana, while HB 4271 would create clear legal protections for medical marijuana provisioning centers (dispensaries) to ensure patients have safe and regular access to medical marijuana.

Both bills must pass out of the Senate committee and receive a vote on the floor before time runs out on Thursday. Law enforcement has been lobbying hard against these compassionate measures, and it’s crucial your senator hears from you. If you are a Michigan resident, please ask your senator to support these bills and demand that the Senate take up both measures today.

Then, please ask the governor to support these critical measures for the good of all Michiganders!

Currently, non-smoked forms of marijuana are not considered “usable marijuana,” and therefore can’t be legally consumed by those who prefer not to smoke –- sometimes leading to tragic consequences. At the same time, provisioning centers do not have clear protections under Michigan law, which harms patients who should have safe, regulated access to medicine. These bills both make huge improvements for patients. Both passed by wide margins in the House, and now we are down to the final steps in the Senate.

Help spread the word by passing this message to friends, relatives and supporters in Michigan.

 

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Michigan Court Overturns Medical Marijuana Conviction Because of Prosecutor’s Closing Rant


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Last month, a Michigan Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of a man charged with cultivating marijuana for medical purposes. During the original trial, the prosecutor used her closing arguments to viciously criticize Michigan’s medical marijuana program.

The prosecutor’s closing argument was clearly and thoroughly improper. The prosecutor embarks on a political commentary, and a personal diatribe discrediting the MMA as a whole, claiming (without supporting evidence) that its protections are being abused by recreational users and exploitative physicians…and suggests that those suffering from chronic pain are simply cheating the system. She also denigrates the general population of lawful medical marijuana users, claiming that they attract violence to the community and advocate that everyone be allowed to “walk around stoned.” Finally, she states that it is unfortunate that the jury cannot judge the MMA…By making these unfounded, irrelevant and inflammatory statements, the prosecutor essentially argues that defendant’s affirmative defense is nothing more than a drain on the community, and that even if he is innocent under the MMA he is simply exploiting the system. As a result, the prosecutor encouraged the jury to convict defendant despite the protections of the Section 8 defense. This affected defendant’s substantial rights.

Hearing people in law enforcement use their positions to inappropriately cast dispersions on medical marijuana laws and patients is nothing new, but this is a rare occurrence where the consequences negatively impacted the prosecutor instead of the patient on trial. Police and prosecutors in medical marijuana states need to respect their laws instead of using people’s lives and freedom to protest policies they do not like.

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Majority of Americans Continue to Support Making Marijuana Legal in the U.S.


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According to a recent Gallup Poll, 51% of Americans favor making the use of marijuana legal — similar to the 50% who supported it in 2011 and 2012 — but down from 58% support last year.

The October 12-15 Gallup poll was conducted in the run-up to the midterm elections, in which various marijuana policy reform ballot measures were before voters in Alaska, Oregon, Washington D.C., and Florida, as well as in many cities in Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, and elsewhere.

Last year was the first time that Gallup found an overwhelming majority in favor of making marijuana legal, at a solid 58%. This year, however, support is shown to be at 51%, which is still a majority, though the percentage is closer to where it was in 2011 and 2012.

According to the communications director at the Marijuana Policy Project, Mason Tvert:

While most observers would agree there was solid majority support in 2013, many thought 58% was questionably high. Rarely, if ever, do you see public opinion on a controversial social issue jump as much as seven points in the course of one year. It will be interesting to see if the same opponents who declared such a large increase was impossible last year will have the same analysis of such a large decrease this year.  

Things are moving in one direction when it comes to the tangible products of public opinion. I would take passage of laws in two states and our nation’s capital over some jumpy poll results any day. If Gallup finds 49% support in 2016 after five more states vote to end marijuana prohibition, I could live with that. 

The bottom line is that public support for making the use of marijuana legal has clearly increased and continues to increase as more Americans recognize that it makes no sense to punish responsible adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol. Four states, the nation’s capital, and two East Coast cities now legally allow the use of marijuana. It is clear that momentum is growing across the nation for marijuana policy reform.

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Michigan Marijuana Victories in Hazel Park and Oak Park


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If yesterday’s elections in Hazel Park and Oak Park are any indication, voters in cities and towns across Michigan will be standing up for sensible marijuana policies in November. Voters in both communities voted to make it legal under local law for adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana on private property. The measures received 62% of the vote in Hazel Park and 53% in Oak Park.

Congratulations to organizers Debra Young and Tim Beck and to the many activists who helped make these victories possible!

Hazel Park and Oak Park represent the first of 17 cities in which similar measures either have or will likely be added to the ballot. For a complete list of cities and the measures’ current statuses, click here. These wins in Oak Park and Hazel Park follow an uninterrupted streak of victories in Michigan cities in recent years, including Lansing, Ferndale, Jackson, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Flint.

These votes do not change state law — which still makes criminals of people who choose a substance that is safer than alcohol and many prescription drugs. But they send a very important message to local law enforcement authorities, elected officials, and state government: Voters are sick and tired of the failure of the prohibition on marijuana and want change!

In other good news for sensible marijuana policies, Congressmen Justin Amash (R) and Dan Benishek (R) — who co-sponsor the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act — survived primary challenges.

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Signatures Being Gathered Across Michigan for Local Initiatives


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Advocates across the state of Michigan are hitting the streets in a major push to gather signatures that would decriminalize possession of small amounts marijuana in up to 18 cities. They have until July 29 to get the signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. If you have not gotten involved already, it’s not too late to help!

Click here for a list of communities involved, the status of the local effort, and the names of local organizers to contact if you want to be part of the change.

Three communities out of the 18 have already qualified. The current effort follows similar campaigns in numerous other cities in years past. Last year, voters in Lansing, Ferndale, and Jackson voted overwhelmingly in favor decriminalization measures. In 2012, voters supported similar voter initiatives in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Flint. MPP wishes to thank everyone involved in this tremendous grassroots effort that is sweeping communities in Michigan!

 

 

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PTSD Approved as Qualifying Condition in Michigan!


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Late last week, the director of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, accepted a recommendation that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) be added as a qualifying condition for Michigan’s medical marijuana program. This makes Michigan the eighth state where patients with PTSD qualify to use medical marijuana.

Director of LARA Steve Arwood
Dir. Steve Arwood

Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Steve Arwood issued a press release last Friday, stating that he has decided to approve the recommendation, despite stating several concerns. Mr. Arwood ultimately chose to put his “trust in the medical professionals in Michigan to certify the use of medical marihuana for PTSD with the utmost care and attention to the patient seeking assistance.”

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD will affect 7-8% of Americans at some point in their lives. In Michigan, that’s about three quarters of a million people. PTSD can be debilitating in all areas of a person’s life, impacting sleep, work, and relationships.

This decision would not have been made without all those who provided comments in support of adding PTSD to the medical marijuana program.

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Bad Medical Bill Progresses in Michigan


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Sen. Rick Jones

In Michigan on Tuesday, Sen. Rick Jones’s SB 783 passed the Senate with a vote of 31 to 7. This bill — which is now pending in the House Judiciary Committee — would allow landlords to prohibit medical marijuana cultivation and smoking in the privacy of one’s residence.  Meanwhile, more sensible bills including HB 4271 and HB 5104, which protect patient access, currently languish in committee.

This bill would allow landlords to prohibit marijuana cultivation as well as smoking — but not vaporizing — when a lease specifically limits these activities. Those who violate a lease would be subject to sanctions, taking patient rights backwards to the days before the current law was passed in 2008. This bill would limit these rights without addressing fundamental problem in Michigan’s law — the lack of safe and regular access through state-legal provisioning centers and protections for non-smoked forms of the medicine.

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