House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Klint Kesto called off a proposed third week of testimony on a pair of medical marijuana bills that the Michigan legislature has been kicking around for the last three years.
Considering the nature of the testimony heard in that committee over the last two weeks, maybe that’s a good thing.
The two bills represent long-awaited corrections to two snags in the medical marijuana laws in Michigan. One bill, re-introduced this year for the third consecutive legislative session, would authorize marijuana dispensaries; the other would correct a 2013 Appellate Court decision that removed legal protections for registered patients using non-smoked forms of cannabis.
This legislative session’s testimony on HB 4209 and HB 4210 began May 1 and continued on May 7. On the 1st the Committee session began with a 45 minute slideshow from the Michigan State Police (MSP) wherein fuzzy math and candy wrappers were presented as proof that marijuana is out of control and needs to be reigned in.
“When you see people make claims about the exploitation of marijuana and the marijuana industry, it shows how little they know about cannabis itself,” said Jamie Lowell, Chairman of the Michigan chapter of Americans for Safe Access.
The May 7th session featured testimony from Paul Welday, an Oakland County Republican who serves as the frontman for the MRC, often referred to as ‘the Monopoly Group’. During his testimony Welday “commonly refers to legal caregiver grows as “illicit” and “illegal”,” according to the captions on a video released to social media by MILegalize, a grassroots organization seeking legalization of adult use through an inclusive program that fosters small business.
On the video Welday calls these operations “public hazards” and “public nuisance” grows. Even hardcore MRC backers took issue with the nature of the testimony and the assault on the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA).
Jim Powers, speaking on behalf of the MILegalize group, said, “We don’t support the attack on the MMMA or the caregiver system and will oppose any effort to restrict the rights already established under current law.”
To be sure, advocates have done their job. The need to re-legalize non-smoked forms of marijuana for registered patients is clear. Testimony delivered by parents of sick children and ill adults has made the issue real to the Committee members. The pictures of 6-year old Ryan Powers, shown in one photo bloated by steroids and in another healthy and smiling, is an indelible image legislators will remember at voting time.
Supporters of the Provisioning Centers Act delivered testimony of significance, including Detroit City Councilman James Tate. In Detroit they are considering proposals to allow dispensaries, or Provisioning Centers, because of the state’s failure to act, Tate told the Committee on the 7th.
Instead of taking a third session of testimony on May 14th, Chairman Kesto has set the issue aside while amendments to the current language of the bills are being prepared. Another session will be scheduled “in a few weeks,” said Robin Schneider, Legislative Liaison for the National Patients Rights Association (NPRA), the marijuana community’s lead lobbying organization for the advancement of the two bills.
Source: The Compassion Chronicles