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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Michigan News: August 2015 - by Rachel Bunting

Michigan News for August 2015

Should Medication Have an Age Limit?
GRAND BLANC: A Grand Blanc woman decided to share her daughter’s story this month, a story that started six months ago. Ida Chinonis is the mother of a beautiful little 6 year-old named Bella. Bella has been diagnosed with a genetic disorder called 1p36 deletion syndrome. This disorder can cause many problems including seizures, developmental delays, and limited speech ability. Bella is also experiencing kidney failure and has multiple holes in her heart. Bella was unable to speak, chew, play, or even walk. That was until six months ago Ida began giving her daughter medical marijuana oil and says Bella has made strides since then. She says that Bella is finally able to stand up by herself and will respond to voices, something she never would do before. She is also loves the movie Frozen, something she never previously showed any emotion toward. Ida says the only thing her family has done differently is administer the oil. While Bella’s seizures have been reduced, she still has many challenges ahead of her and will likely never develop like her peers, but her parents are hopeful that continued use of the oil will keep providing some relief for their daughter.

     Though Bella’s story came out this month, it is certainly not the only one like it. Currently there are 150 minors in the state of Michigan approved for medical marijuana, which is more than three times higher than the 44 on the list just three years ago. Unlike adults, who just need a recommendation from one doctor, children need a recommendation from two physicians to be considered for their medical marijuana card. Currently the American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the use of marijuana as a medication for minors, their reasoning is “the negative
health and brain development effects of marijuana in children and adolescents, ages 0 through 21.” However there are many advocates that believe opposition to the drug comes from lack of education about it.  While the idea of minors being given doses of THC is a controversial topic, it hasn’t stopped many parents from trying to obtain it for their children, just hoping to provide the little ones with some much needed relief.

MiLegalize Signature Campaign Kick-Off
LANSING: MiLegalize, one of two ballot committees trying to get proposals on the 2016 ballot, kicked off their statewide marijuana legalization petition drive late this month. The group has roughly 180 days to gather 252,523 valid signatures. They are using a combination of paid and volunteer circulators, according to Jeffery Hank, chair of the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee (MiLegalize). Marijuana enthusiasts chanted “Free the weed for the jobs we need!” during a speech made by Hank at the petition kick-off. Hank told MLive, “It’s a trend that’s happening nationwide, and we’d rather lead than follow. Michigan was one of the hardest hit states by the recession, and when it comes to tax revenue and jobs, we should be leading on this.” The initiative proposed by the group would legalize the use and possession of marijuana by anyone 21 years or older and calls for a 10 percent tax on retail sales, with the revenue going toward roads, schools, and local governments. It would also legalize hemp farming, which could stimulate the economy for Michigan farmers. If the proposal reaches the 2016 ballot, marijuana would become legal for Michigan adults on March 1st, 2017.

     The Michigan Cannabis Coalition, the second group with proposed legislation, was the first to begin collecting signatures early in the month using National Petition Management, a leading signature collecting firm. The MCC proposal, similar to MiLegalize, would make the use and possession of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. However, unlike MiLegalize, the MCC would give the state Legislature authority to set the tax rate and appoint an oversight board. While the groups disagree as to how legalization should be handled and by whom, it is clear that legalization may not be far off for our state.

Stay in Compliance or Go to Jail
DETROIT: Police began cracking down even harder this month on dispensaries that are out of compliance with Michigan’s marijuana laws. Detroit Medz was raided earlier this month due to being a front for illegal activities, according to Cmdr. Johnny Thomas. Thomas stated, “They were selling weed openly to any citizen that came in, which is illegal. Basically they were selling to people who didn’t have a card and were not following the guidelines” In the raid police seized two guns, more than 4,000 grams of marijuana (worth $40,000) and arrested two men. Apparently neighboring businesses had been complaining about the store for weeks. My Fox Detroit reported that the store, which is located near an elementary and a middle school, was apparently handing out flyers after an 8th grade commencement let out according to Councilman James Tate. Due to the stalled regulation policies in Lansing regarding the drug, Detroit has become oversaturated with the businesses. Tate, who represents district one in the city, claims that there are approximately 19 functioning dispensaries in his 18.3 square mile district. Detroit is currently working on its own ordnance while waiting for Lansing. In the meantime police are expected to be checking on every dispensary to make sure they are following the rules and staying legal. 

Autism Decision Postponed
 LANSING: Many families throughout Michigan have been arguing for years to get autism on the list of debilitating conditions deemed suitable for treatment with cannabis. This month the state review panel that considers making the recommendation to add the disability to the list decided to postpone their decision until they meet again July 31st.  Once a definite decision is reached, the panel will make a recommendation, either for or against, to the state Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department. The panel has ruled against approval in the past due to a lack of quality, peer reviewed research exploring marijuana as a treatment for autism. The current list includes cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and many other debilitating conditions.

Fenton is Growing
FENTON: The planning commission in Fenton approved a site plan for the construction of a marijuana greenhouse on July 23rd. The Building and Zoning Administrator, Michael Reilly, said the facility will be 9,000 sq. feet and is not a dispensary. “This is not a place where people will come and pick up their marijuana, this is strictly for growing,” he said. Ordinance 687, passed in January, allows growing operations but does not permit dispensaries in the area, so the cannabis will be delivered to patients. While this now allows patients to have easier access to their medication, some residents are worried if this change will negatively affect their community.

Decriminalization Could be Coming
PORTAGE: A group called Committee for a Safer Portage had no trouble collecting more than the 1,930 signatures needed to put their decriminalization amendment on the November ballot. The charter amendment says, “Nothing in the Code of Ordinances shall apply to the use, possession, or transfer of one ounce of marijuana, on private property not used by the public, or transportation of one ounce or less of marijuana, by a person who has attained the age of 21 years.” If approved, the amendment would prevent the city from enacting an ordinance making the possession, transfer, or transportation of marijuana on private property a crime. Already more than 15 cities in Michigan have decriminalized marijuana, and while decriminalization does not stop law enforcement from making arrests under state law, it does send the message that people are tired of being victimized for small amounts of pot. The group expects 55-60 percent of the vote, based on the widespread support they saw while circulating petitions. 

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