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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Michigan News for May 2016 - by Rachel Bunting

Legal Driving Limit
Last month the Michigan House voted 107-1 in favor of creating a commission to research and recommend a limit for THC bodily content, similar to that of alcohol in which bodily content of the substance cannot be above 0.08. Unlike other substances, marijuana can be detected in the body long after the “impairing effects” have worn off. This makes it difficult for law enforcement officers to determine who may be safe to drive and who may be driving impaired. It also puts a strain on patients who might be safe to drive, though their blood still contains traces of the drug. Rep. Peter Lucido, who sponsored the bill, said members of the commission will be appointed by Governor Snyder and will include law enforcement officers as well as medical and science professionals. Recommendations for the policy are expected within the next year.

Former Lawmaker Sentenced
Grand Rapids:
A former Michigan Representative, Roy Schmidt, was sentenced to 45 days in jail as the result of a June 2015 raid on two homes connected to him. Law enforcement officers found 3 pounds of usable marijuana and 71 plants, more than allowed by state laws. Schmidt’s lawyer, Joshua Covert, explained that the former rep. was about to have extensive back surgery, which would require prolonged recovery, and he would not be able to cultivate and harvest during that time so he was just trying to “get ahead”. Judge Johnston took Schmidt’s 20 years of public service into account, “Your years of public service are in some regard a two-edged sword,” acknowledging the medical marijuana law is difficult for many to understand. “It puts you in a position above what the average citizen might be of knowledge and involvement with the law. You plainly realized you were outside the limits.” The judge sentenced Schmidt to 45 days in jail, ordering him to show up the Friday following sentencing and allowing him 4 days to get his family matters in order.

Dispensary Moratorium
Argentine Twp.:
The Board of Trustees in Argentine Township had unanimous approval last month to put a one-year moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries. The moratorium forbids any dispensary from opening shop in the area. The supervisor of the meeting, Bob Cole, asked the township attorney to clarify what was being voted on as the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act already prohibits any state-licensed facilities from selling the medication. The attorney, David Lattie, explained that the current marijuana law in Michigan left a gap between patient and caregiver, which has allowed dispensaries to open citing a loophole. If the business claims they are caregivers that only sell to their registered patients, they are harder to shut down. The board approved the moratorium and has said it will study the existing federal law to consider possible regulation of dispensaries in the area.

Otsego County Raids
Chad Morrow, owner of Cloud 45, was arrested in April, following a raid at his home, his business, and his medical grow facility. According to 9&10 News, Straits Area Narcotics Enforcement (S.A.N.E) found edibles, 40 marijuana plants, and more than 4 pounds of marijuana. He will face felony charges of delivering and maintaining a drug house. Morrow told the news outlet, “We do not respect the fact that the state police, S.A.N.E, and Mike Rola want to waste tax payers’ dollars and want to go after medical marijuana patients, medical marijuana caregivers and not the meth, not the heroin and not the real problems in this town.” Otsego County Prosecutor, Mike Rola, says the Medical Marijuana Act is clear and caregivers are knowingly breaking the law; he expects more arrests will be coming. Morrow, who will be back in court in early May, says he will continue to fight because patients deserve access to their medicine.

NORML Endorses MI Legalize
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has announced its endorsement of the MI Legalize 2016 initiative. MI Legalize (also known as the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee) began gathering petition signatures in June and has collected more than 270,000 signatures from registered voters in an effort to legalize marijuana in the state. The goal of both groups is to legalize the use, production, and retail sale of marijuana, making Michigan the first state in the Midwest to allow adults to use the drug recreationally. Many believe if the initiative makes it onto the ballot, and is approved, it will be the “most liberal marijuana legalization law in the United States.”

Using Extremes to Warn Teens of Marijuana
In 1999 Kevin Arntz murdered his wife, dismembered her body, and cooked some of the pieces before being caught. While the case is old, it was the topic of discussion during a question-answer session following a court-to-school event in Parma. Judge Joseph Filip relayed details of the crime to the students in an effort to warn them of the dangers of marijuana as Arntz, unsuccessfully, appealed his murder conviction on the grounds that he was in a marijuana induced psychosis when the crime took place. “So the argument that marijuana doesn’t hurt anybody,” Filip told the students, “yeah, Kevin Arntz cooked his wife because he was hallucinating over marijuana, thought she was the she-devil, at least that’s what he told people.” Filip made it clear to his audience that he believes people turn to harder drugs because alcohol and marijuana “soften” the brain. Filip used an extreme case, with very little evidence (aside from small amounts of marijuana found at the crime scene), to express his opposition to the idea of legalization while attempting to persuade students that marijuana is a gateway drug, and will lead to harsher substances, such as heroin or pills.


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