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Monday, March 30, 2015

Michigan News - April 2015

     A bill that has passed in the Senate and is heading to the House this week would allow landlords to ban smoking and growing marijuana in their rental units. The bill doesn’t include marijuana edibles, which may or may not be legal under the fuzzy, current marijuana laws anyway. President of the Port Huron Area Landlords Association, Mike Bodeis, agrees with the bill stating, “If you’re allowed to have a smoke-free building, you should be allowed to have a marijuana-free building.”

     The legislation was proposed by Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, after receiving complaints from his district about rental houses being damaged from grow operations. He says “I’m simply clarifying the medical marijuana law. This will make sure it is very clear for everyone – from a judge to police to the property owner to the renter.” Careless grows have led to mold, water damage, or fires started by grow lights, costing property owners money. Laura Rigby, director of the Coalition for a Safer Port Huron, believes the bill is unnecessary as it relates to smoking marijuana; landlords already have the right and power to ban smoking, in all forms, in their building. She does, however, understand the need to control growing in rentals stating, “There are some bad growers…They [landlords] already have issues with bad tenants, let alone bad growers.” If passed, caregivers and patients in rental houses may need to find other options for their grow operations.

Grand Rapids
     Samer Hamed, 44, was sentenced to five months of jail in 2013 for his business failing to comply with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. Hamed was arrested again in May of last year when police found 20 ounces of pot under his bathroom sink as well as another 33 grams and $2,702 in his garage. His attorney claimed that his client was following the law to the best of his ability, but the current interpretation of the laws makes it difficult to follow. However, the officers involved in the case testified that the amount of marijuana found in the home was far beyond what anyone could claim for personal use with a retail value of over $6,000. On top of the $2,700 the police seized, Judge Donald Johnston ordered Hamed pay a $10,000 fine and be placed on probation for three years during which time he may not drink, go to bars, or use drugs. Surprisingly the judge did not order any more jail time for Hamed, stating “I don’t know if there is much reason to impose further incarceration.”

Benzie County
     Two local zoning boards in Benzie County are considering creating an ordinance that would ban medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in the area in the future. The current medical marijuana laws in Michigan remain unclear on patient to patient transfers, what is considered usable marijuana, and exactly how marijuana can be sold. According to 9&10 news, law enforcement says most dispensaries are technically illegal. The sheriff of Benzie County, Ted Schendel, says, “A medical marijuana dispensary can only dispense to five individuals. To have a store front is meaningless.” Though marijuana advocates argue dispensaries provide a service, Schendel maintains the problem comes in when there is an overage and greed takes over common sense, in some cases the overage is sold to others which is a violation of the law. Many simply see the provisioning centers as a way to distribute medicine to those that need it, but for now the debate continues in Benzie County.

     An 18-year-old student at Seaholm High School in Birmingham is believed to have given his teacher a marijuana-laced cookie. The teacher became ill shortly after eating the cookie and was taken to a local hospital where a sample of the teacher’s blood was given to a toxicology lab for testing. Police in Birmingham are investigating the incident as are school officials. Principal of the school, Rachel Guinn, sent out an e-mail reassuring the community that “our Seaholm students are outstanding young men and women. I see evidence of that every time I walk the halls or visit a classroom. The actions of one individual, while troubling, do not represent our wonderful school.” No one has yet verified how they’ve determined the cookie caused the illness or was laced with marijuana.


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