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Monday, August 1, 2016

Michigan News for August 2016 - by Rachel Bunting

U of M Study: MJ and Dopamine Receptors

     Ann Arbor: A study released by the University of Michigan has found that marijuana may reduce the response from the “reward area” of the brain. This means the brain would need more of a substance to receive the same level of satisfaction. This applies to substances other than marijuana as the same area of the brain releases dopamine, meaning even substances like food would require more to feel satisfied. The Senior Researcher on the study, Mary Heitzberg, commented on the results of the study, “This kind of suggests that marijuana may be biasing the brain’s reward system away from things the brain would normally find pleasurable.” The study followed 108 young adults, all high-risk for substance use disorder, over a 4 year period, administering a total of 3 MRI brain scans to the participants. 

     Researchers also focused on marijuana’s effect on the brain’s mechanisms underlying addiction, finding prolonged marijuana use at a young age can lead to addiction problems later in life. Organizer of Hash Bash in the 80’s and 90’s disputes the findings, claiming “the curiosity to try other drugs is largely a social thing”. Heitzberg did add, “This is just one piece of evidence that points to the effects of substances on the brain and marijuana in particular.” The study also indicated there are low chances of harm connected with marijuana use.

Dispensary Ordinance at the Capital
     LANSING: A new ordinance for the City of Lansing, now in its fourth draft, could eliminate many of the marijuana dispensaries if passed by the city council. The reduction of cannabis businesses would be due to added zoning restrictions and steep fees. The ordinance would require owners of marijuana establishments to have licenses. Establishments are defined as provisioning centers, safety compliance facility, processor facility, or growing area. The order would already ban establishments from being within 1,000 feet of schools and child care facilities. 

     If passed, a five-member council (consisting of two members from the general public, a member of a residential and neighborhood organization, the Director of Planning and Development or a designee, and a representative from a marijuana patient advocacy organization) would review license applications for marijuana related businesses. Every application must be submitted first to the City Clerk’s Office with a $5,000 fee, with a $10,000 annual fee if the license is approved as well as an additional $10,000 fee if a renewal is needed. If a license is denied the applicant will be returned $2,500 of their application fee. The fees are in place to cover city costs enforcing the ordinance. 

     The draft needs to be approved by 5 of the 8 council members to pass. Currently the city has a moratorium on opening new dispensaries, but there is nothing on the books requiring any marijuana related business to carry a license. The city hopes to have a resolution when the council meets in late July.

Bond Violation Arrest Becomes Drug Bust

Kalkaska: Officers ended up adding extra charges of drug possession to a Kalkaska woman after the Department of Public Safety originally show up at her home to arrest her for a bond violation. The woman slammed and locked the door when officers arrived. After forcing their way into the home officers found the woman attempting to conceal a dog kennel. She was arrested on suspicion of drug use and manufacturing. Police confiscated what they believe to be marijuana and heroin and have sent them to the State Crime Lab to be tested.

New Church Celebrates Cannabis

     Lansing: There were around 50 people at the opening of the new church, The First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason in south Lansing last month. Jeremy Hall, founder of the church, would like monthly meetings to celebrate “cannabis’ spiritual properties”. Hall specifically uses the word ‘spiritual’ as the religion has no ideology, no texts or prophets. KHOU describes the church as BYOB, bring your own beliefs, using marijuana as the common factor between each individual. Hall would also like the church to “elevate the community and to show we aren’t a drain on society or a bunch of unmotivated criminals”. 

     At the meeting last month members were given 100 hygiene kits to give to those in need as well as handing out  
     fans and water on hot summer days. Baked goods and joints were available to medical marijuana card holders in a room near the congregation area. There was a report of one protestor, but overall, Hall claims the community reaction has been a positive one.

Roadside Drug Testing

     Lansing: Michigan State Police are currently working on plans for a pilot program that would allow random roadside drug testing. The MSP will pick five counties to test the program for one year. The drug test would be a saliva based test to check for marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. The counties will be chosen based on the number of impaired drivers arrested, the number of impaired driving crashes, and the number of Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) trained in each county. 

     The program is being implemented after the Barbara J. and Thomas J. Swift Law was passed, named after a couple that was killed when a tractor trailer crashed into their Malibu. The driver of the tractor trailer was found to have THC in his system when tested at the hospital after the accident. Gov. Snyder told mLive, “The five-county pilot program will be used to help determine accuracy and reliability of the tests.” Neil Rockind, the founder and an attorney at Rockind Law, opposes the legislation stating, “The criminal justice system wants to take science and turn it into a fast, easy utility. Science is neither fast nor easy.” Rockind asserted that Michigan will be setting a dangerous precedent. There are 99 DREs in 37 counties and the saliva tests will be administered by DREs only along with a 12 step evaluation.

MiLegalize Suit May be Dismissed

Lansing: The State of Michigan is asking a court to dismiss a suit filed by MiLegalize claiming the campaign has not “met the criteria for filing a lawsuit and state government officials are immune from legal action”. MiLegalize filed the lawsuit asking the court to order state elections officials to count petition signatures though they were collected outside the new 180-day law. The state is also asking for dismissal because the group has run out of time, stating even if the case is won by MiLegalize there will not be enough time for officials to check the validity of the signatures, put the question to the Legislature for the required 40 days, and put on the ballot by the September deadline. Michigan Radio reports MiLegalize will file its response quickly, determined to still make the November ballot. 

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