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    Controversies over the regulation of medical marijuana use in Michigan have patients concerned for their health as well as the rights they gained when Michigan voters legalized medical marijuana in 2008.

    .

    In August, a Michigan court of appeals panel banned marijuana dispensaries from selling the drug, limiting patient access. Users only other options now are to grow it themselves or get it from a registered caregiver, who can only provide for five patients at a time.

    The shutting down of the dispensaries was only the beginning of tighter regulation. Several proposed bills in the legislature would further control the use of medical marijuana. One bill prohibits anybody who has ever been charged of a felony from becoming a caregiver, even if their felony had nothing to do with illegal drugs. Another prohibits cultivation of marijuana within 500 feet of a school, church, or daycare center.

    The Marijuana Policy Project is against a majority of these bills. They claim excluding anybody with a felony from being a caregiver is unnecessary, saying that the “current safeguards on caregiver eligibility are sufficient,” and that this bill would just be “unreasonably burdensome for the seriously ill spouses or other loved ones of former felons.”

    In regards to the cultivation within 500 feet of schools, churches, or daycares, the MPP argues that “no such restrictions apply to pharmacies, which dispense numerous drugs far more dangerous than marijuana.”

    Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joesph, told the South Bend Tribune that legislators want to make sure that medical marijuana is not being “exploited by healthy people as a way to obtain the drug for recreational use.”

    There are also confusing ambiguities to some of the medical marijuana laws. Federal authorities have issued an order that prevents licensed medical marijuana users from possessing a gun, the Detroit Free Press reported.

    The U.S Department of Justice sent a letter to state and county prosecutors across the country on Sept. 21 saying that “any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes… is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.”

    This letter was simply clarifying a federal law that has been in effect for over 40 years. Firearms dealers had been unsure what to do when somebody with a medical marijuana card wanted to purchase a gun.

    Other states have faced similar regulation problems. Colorado still allows dispensaries to operate, as long as they have obtained state and local licensing approval, and are not within 1,000 feet from a school or daycare, although municipalities can exempt them from this rule.

    Sources:

    http://www.mpp.org/assets/pdfs/states/Michigan-Bills-4.pdf
    http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000881

    http://www.southbendtribune.com/sbt-medical-marijuana-in-michigan-panacea-or-problem-20111001,0,7590298.story
    http://detnews.com/article/20110908/METRO/109080399/Patients-rally-for-medical-marijuana
    http://www.freep.com/article/20111001/NEWS06/110010470

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    The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College. 

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    Meet your Policy Fellow: Leah Brynaert

    Leah Brynaert is Health Care Fellow & Correspondent for the Michigan Policy Network. She is a first-year student in Lyman Briggs College at MSU.