Are State Officials Violating Medical Marijuana Law in Michigan?
Last week a lawsuit was filed in Ingham County, Michigan Circuit Court charges that the state agency responsible for issuing Michigan's medical marijuana registry identification cards is violating the law by not properly carrying out its legal responsibilities.
The suit was filed Sept. 19 against Steven H. Hilfinger, who is the Director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and Rae Ramsdell, Director of the Bureau of Health Professions with LARA. It alleges that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program (MMMP), which they oversee, is not acting in accordance with the state's marijuana act passed in 2008. The plaintiff in the suit is Martin Chilcutt, a U.S. Navy veteran in his late seventies, who is the founder of a group called Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access.
The lawsuit itself requests a writ of mandamus, which is a court order used to force government officials to perform their duties. Those who don't perform could be found in contempt of court.
The suit also charges that the MMMP program has not established a review panel to add new medical conditions to a list allowing qualified patients to legally use pot according to the timeline set forth in state law has not issued registry cards in a prompt manner and has failed to issue annual reports.
Attorney Thomas Lavigne filed the lawsuit against the MMMP. He said medical marijuana advocates decided to appeal to the courts after efforts to press the matter with the agency and state legislators went nowhere.
"They're failing to uphold their duty to follow the law by issuing these cards in a timely manner and their time limits have long passed. It should be a no-brainer," he said. "It's just part of a larger pattern of complete disregard for patient and caregiver rights by the state apparatus on every level."
Things have been rough for patients in Michigan since the medical marijuana law went into effect, and relations between patients and law enforcement have been strained at times. Maybe the courts can do what the politicians have failed to do.
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