Proposal in Michigan Senate would prohibit clubs, bars tied to medical marijuana use
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A bill in the Michigan Senate would ban marijuana bars and clubs that have opened since voters approved use of the drug for medical purposes in 2008.
The Republican-led Senate Health Policy Committee passed the bill Thursday. The legislation advances to the Senate floor.
The bill defines the clubs and bars as places where medical marijuana is used for a fee. Violations would be punishable by up to 90 days in jail with fines of up to $500.
Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge sponsors the bill and says people using medical marijuana shouldn't be driving right after they use it.
Marijuana club owners say they provide a key service. There are pending court cases involving clubs that could set precedents for how they're allowed to operate.
WA Senate OKs changes to medical marijuana system
OLYMPIA, Wash. —
Washington senators moved forward Wednesday night with establishing more regulation on the state's medical marijuana system, approving a bill with changes that would give patients greater protection from arrest and bring the supply chain out of a legal gray area.
After lengthy debate, senators approved the bill on a 29-20 vote. The measure now moves to the House.
The bill addresses a conundrum in Washington's system: It's technically legal for a patient to possess pot, but the proper ways of getting the drug can be unclear.
Current state law does not allow for marijuana sales, instead saying that patients must grow marijuana themselves or designate a caregiver to grow it for them. But growing marijuana can be expensive and difficult, particularly for very ill people.
That has prompted many patients to form groups that grow pot collectively, contributing dues to help cover costs. In the Seattle area, some collectives also have distribution sites - called dispensaries - that serve thousands of members.
Current state law is silent on such collectives, and prosecutors around the state have taken differing views of whether they're permissible. The state Health Department maintains they're not. At the same time, the state Revenue Department began seeking sales tax revenue last month from dispensaries around the state.
The measure further clarifies who can grow and sell the product by establishing licenses. Under this bill, the Department of Agriculture would license growers and the Department of Health will supervise dispensaries.
The bill also creates a registry accessible to law enforcement where authorized user can enroll.
"My intention is to ensure patients who are qualified have safe, secure reliable source for the medication that works for them," said Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, who shared that her best friend used marijuana illegally while coping with chemotherapy.
Senators approved several amendments to the bill that supporters didn't want, including banning advertisement of dispensaries in newspapers, shifting the power of approving locations to cities, and requiring dispensaries to be nonprofit entities.
Opponents, including some country prosecutors and police, say that the bill moves the state closer to legalizing marijuana use and makes enforcement of recreational use of marijuana more difficult.
"If our law enforcement says that's going to be very difficult to enforce this, then I think we should take another look at changing this bill so that it actually" provides enforcement, said Sen. James Hargrove, D-Hoquiam.
57 Percent of Floridians Support Legalizing Medical Marijuana
With 14 states and the District of Colombia allowing the legal medical use of marijuana, acceptance of the issue is steadily growing in America. A new poll shows that 57 percent of Floridians support legalization of medical marijuana as buzz grows that the issue could be placed on the ballot as soon as 2012.
Bob Norman reports that the poll was conducted by Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, a Republican firm that worked with Rick Scott's gubernatorial campaign. The pollsters asked point blank: "If there was a Constitutional Amendment on the statewide ballot to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes only when prescribed by a practicing physician and the election were held today, would you vote YES to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes or NO to stop it?"
57 percent said they would vote YES (roughly 41 percent said they definitely would, and about 17 percent said they probably would). A recent ABC News poll found that across the nation 81 percent of voters support medical marijuana. It's possible that this poll may even be conservative in estimating support.
Norman reports that such an amendment could come to the ballot in 2012, but 60 percent of voters would need to check yes for such a measure to pass.
While there wasn't a big statistical difference based on gender and race, slightly more woman were supportive of the measure than men. 59 percent of white voters and 58 percent of Hispanics would vote yes, while only 55 percent of black voters would.
Voters in Miami would support the measure at 58 percent, but West Palm has the biggest munchies for medical marijuana with 73 percent. 79 percent of voters 18 to 24 would vote yes, while even a majority of voters 65 and up are supportive of the measure with 53 percent support.
Lawmakers hear testimony on food, drinks containing medical marijuana
Law enforcement officers urged state lawmakers Tuesday to ban or restrict the sale of medical-marijuana food and drink products, while cannabis advocates pleaded to keep them legal.
The officers said the products, which include pot-infused brownies, candies and chocolate bars, are appealing to children and are showing up at schools.
"These aren't trivial incidents," Jim Gerhardt, a member of the North Metro Drug Task Force, told lawmakers. "A number of children have been hospitalized because of consuming these products."
But medical-marijuana business owners and activists said the products are vital for patients who can't or don't want to smoke cannabis. If they're getting into the hands of children, the advocates said, it's not the products' fault.
"This isn't a pot issue," said Jessica LeRoux, who owns a company that makes marijuana-infused cheesecakes and other items. "This is a parenting issue."
The clash came during a public hearing for a bill that, in its current form, would ban the sale of any medical- marijuana-infused food or drink item. However, Rep. Cindy Acree, an Aurora Republican who is sponsoring the bill, said she intends to propose amendments that would keep the products legal but impose strict labeling, packaging and marketing requirements on them.
Pot charges dropped against N.J. patient
David Barnes is finally off the legal hook in the New Jersey town where he was busted for marijuana possession last year.
His case has become a rallying point for medical marijuana advocates here. New Jersey legalized marijuana for patients with certain conditions last year, but implementation has been delayed as the state labors over regulatory details.
In the meantime, Barnes had drug charges filed against him, and then, last week, dropped.
If the program had been up and running, probably no one would have considered the 50-year-old former internal auditor a criminal.
Barnes has cyclic vomiting syndrome. He says that with little warning, he'll get painful, persistent vomiting attacks that last from one to three days. He regularly throws up so much that he loses 10 percent of his body weight.
Back in the late 1990s, he said, a doctor recommended he use pot -- which is illegal -- to soothe the symptoms. He said that while cannabis doesn't prevent the attacks, it makes them milder.
His was the type of case that persuaded New Jersey lawmakers in January 2010 to make the state the 14th to legalize marijuana for people with certain medical conditions. People with seizure disorders like Barnes would be allowed to use the drug. Patients say marijuana reduces pain and nausea.
A month after the law was signed, the resident of Tewksbury, a rural community 45 miles west of New York City, borrowed a neighbor's plow and headed out after a snowstorm to dig out a vacationing friend's home in Readington.
The plow got stuck. He says he asked neighbors of the friend's for help, but that they summoned police. Officers said he smelled like marijuana -- and found a small amount of the drug and a pipe on him.
He was charged with possession and carrying paraphernalia, offenses that could have landed him in jail for up to a year.
Barnes said took his doctor with him to meet with the municipal prosecutor and reached a deal. As soon as he could present his state-issued card authorizing him to access pot legally, the charges would be dismissed. Prosecutor Robert Ballard did not immediately return a call about the deal.
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