Medical Marijuana Bills Clear Senate Panel

Jul 17, 2014

Future of medical marijuana bills uncertain after clearing state Senate panel

Two bills that would ease restrictions on medical marijuana in Michigan are one step closer to becoming law. A state Senate panel approved the legislation Wednesday.

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But it is not clear what will happen to the bills now that they are going to the full Senate.

House Bill 4271 would let communities decide to allow and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. House Bill 5104 would allow patients to use edible and other non-smokable forms of cannabis.
    
State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, voted for the bills in committee. But he says he still has concerns and would not vote for them in their current form on the Senate floor.

"No. I think they need some more work," said Richardville. "And I'm willing to do that work."

Richardville wants to add protections to make sure marijuana doesn't fall into the hands of children.

"I think there will be a significant amount of work done between now and then and we'll have a different set of bills to look at," he said, "maybe as soon as August, maybe September."

The Michigan State Police and other law enforcement agencies across the state say they are also worried about safety issues.

Because House Bill 5104 would amend the state's voter-approved medical marijuana law, it would need to win approval from 3/4 of the state Senate - which has a Republican supermajority.

Medical marijuana advocates say the bills are necessary so that patients have reliable, safe access to treatment. They say too many patients rely on the black market for marijuana. And they say children and people with respiratory illnesses should not be forced to smoke the substance.