On Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 at 3 pm, the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a meeting for three senate bills to be discussed. While two of them deal with elder abuse, the third is a bill to alter the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. Senate Bill 72 which was introduced on January 29th is sponsored entirely by Republican Senators, which include Senators Rick Jones, James Marleau, Peter MacGregor, Tonya Schuitmaker, Wayne Schmidt, Mary Knollenberg and Dale Zorn. The full text of the bill can be read here.
SB 72 is essentially the rebirth of a similar bill that failed to pass last year titled SB 783. Unfortunately, some of the proposed amendments to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act of 2008 would not be particularly beneficial to the state’s medical marijuana community. Last year, lobbyists and activists worked long hours to strike some of the language from SB783, but a new legislative session means the ability to re-introduce the original language under a new name in the hopes it will pass the Senate again this year with a larger majority.
For example, the bill, as it is written currently, would specifically permit landlord discrimination against medical marijuana patients, as long as the lease discloses their intention to do so. That means that landlords will have the option of adding a clause to their lease banning the smoking or cultivation of cannabis on the premises. The language of this legislation does not specifically indicate that the ban would only apply to the indoor spaces of buildings but is vague enough that outdoor spaces could also be subject to the same restriction, essentially allowing landlords to discriminate against medical marijuana users. However, some supporters of the bill within the community insist that this legislation would not be discriminatory, as cannabis users would still have the option of vaporizing or consuming medibles.
“I’m physically unable to use vaporizers,” says Jenny Read, a medical marijuana patient who suffers from leukodystrophy that rents in Lansing. When asked about medibles, she replied, “I don’t like that they are not controlled, unpredictable.”
That is a sentiment echoed by others. Shannon Sterner, another Lansing tenant, has also found it difficult to obtain reliable medibles and ensure a proper dose. “After attempting medibles, I learned that it is hard to find the proper dose needed, as well as uneasy to obtain consistent edibles…Also not having the knowledge of how to properly make medibles has deferred me away from it.” Much like Read, Sterner does not feel like vaporizing is an option for her at this time. “When it comes to vaporizong, I think its a great idea, but its not as simple as it sounds either. Without the proper knowledge and materials, which tend to cost quite a bit, I found it next to impossible for me to easily and safely medicate (that way).”
The proposed changes would also expand the public smoking restrictions of the Act. As of now, smoking medical marijuana is banned in public places, but the amended language would additionally prohibit smoking on any portion of all private properties that is open to the public and on whole private property, where the owner has established its ban.
Those who wish to attend this important committee meeting to demonstrate a polite solidarity with the state’s medical cannabis community should arrive at least 15minutes early for the 3:00 meeting. It will be held in Room 110 of the Farnum Building located at 125 W. Allegan Street in Lansing, 48933. If special accommodations are needed, attendees can contact the office of the Committee Chair, Rick Jones, for assistance. Remember that those present will serve as representatives for the medical cannabis community, and should comport themselves accordingly.
Photo Credit: bryndin