On November 4, 2008, 63% of Michigan voters approved the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) – MPP's campaign committee drafted the law and led the resoundingly successful campaign efforts. Since that time, nearly 50,000 Michigan residents have been certified by the Michigan Department of Community Health to legally use marijuana to treat debilitating conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS. Now all eyes are on the Michigan legislature to see what changes, if any, are in store for the program.
In an opening salvo, Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) has filed a bill – SB 17 – that would prohibit the operation of “marihuana clubs.” For his part, Jones says his intent is to prohibit abuses of the law; namely driving away from clubs moments after smoking marijuana. “If a dispensary is going to dispense, that’s fine,” Jones said. “(But) take the prescription home, don’t use it at the premises and drive away.”
The real test will come later when the legislature decides how, if at all, to regulate and tax dispensaries in the state. Jones is convening a task force to address the issue now, and patient advocates will play a role in the decisions made. “I think Senator Jones is a fair man," said Tim Beck, director of the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers. "We believe in his concepts, but the devil, in the end, will be in the details. We feel comfortable working with him.”
Marijuana laws in Michigan (non-medical)
Michigan law is unusual in that it includes separate penalties for the possession and use of marijuana. Possession of any amount of marijuana – whether several ounces or a single gram – is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Separately, use of marijuana is also a misdemeanor, but punishable by 90 days in jail and a fine of not more than $100. Lastly, possession in or within 1,000 feet of a public or private park can land the offender in jail for up to 2 years.