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Proposed Medical Marijuana Restrictions for Patients & Caregivers Up For Vote in Michigan

UPDATE: All bills have been approved. Read the updated story.

Michigan lawmakers made some amendments this morning to the, “Michigan Medical Marihuana Act,” of 2008. The law simply allows the possession and use of medical marijuana.

The purpose of the changes was to further clarify the act, as well as add more restrictions to patients and caregivers.

While many people feel the bills are unnecessary, the Republican-led Senate passed the two bills, HB 4834 and HB 4851, with overwhelming support (29-9 and 30-8 votes respectively). In addition, Senate Bill No. 933 states that an employer is not required to reimburse, or caused to be reimbursed, charges for medical marijuana treatment.

House Bill 4834:

Establishes guidelines for the department to issue registry identification cards to qualifying medical marijuana patients. Patients must be 18 years of age, and provide the following in order to receive a card:

  • A written certification
  • Application or renewal fee
  • Patients name, address, and date of birth
  • Patients primary (if any) caregivers name, address, and date of birth
  • Proof of residency

Proof of residency can be a copy of a valid, Michigan Driver LicenseOfficial state personal identification cardVoter registration

The bills clarify that if someone is under the age of 18, they will not issue them a card unless the patient’s parent or legal guardian submits a written certification from 2 physicians. The parent or guardian must also consent in writing to allow the patient to use medical marijuana, and agree to serve as the qualifying patient’s primary caregiver. As caregiver, they agree to be responsible for controlling the acquisition of marijuana, the dosage, and frequency of use for the patient. A primary caregiver may assist up to 5 qualifying patients.

House Bill 4834 also establishes the fact that beginning on the effective date of the amendable act, the department shall appoint a panel within 6 months, to review petitions to approve the addition of medical conditions or treatments to the list of debilitating medical conditions. They will hold open meetings twice a year, containing a panel of mostly licensed physicians to provide recommendations to the department on the submissions.

House Bill 4851:

Establishes a, “bona fide physician-patient relationship,” requirement for patients. This means the physician must complete a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, as well as perform a full in-person medical evaluation of the patient. The physician is then responsible for creating and maintaining the records of the patient’s condition, as well as providing follow-up care to monitor the effectiveness of medical marijuana as a treatment for that specific patients condition.

In addition, the bill states that growing cannabis plants must be kept in an, “Enclosed, locked facility,” meaning a closet, room, or any other enclosed area with secured locks. Patients may grow plants outdoors, so long as they are enclosed by a fence, and are not visible to the adjacent property when viewed by an individual at ground level.

A vehicle is considered a locked facility if it is being used temporarily to transport living plants, and the individual driving is the registered patient to whom the plants belong. The person driving the car may also be the registered primary caregiver. The term, “primary caregiver,” was revised to mean someone who has not been convicted of any felonies in the past 10 years, and has never been convicted of a felony involving illegal drugs, or assault. This was changed from, “never been convicted of a felony involving illegal drugs,” to include “ANY FELONY within the past 10 years AND has never been convicted of a felony involving illegal drugs.” This will mean that some people who currently provide patients with their medicine will be revoked of that privilege. We do not feel this is exactly fair, considering there may be extenuating circumstances in which this may work unfairly towards some patients.

Senate Bill No. 933:

This is a bill to amend the, “Worker’s, disability compensation act of 1969,” by adding a section stating that an employer is not required to reimburse, or cause to be reimbursed, charges for medical marijuana treatment. The bill has been passed by the Senate, and is waiting to be ruled on by the House. The bill prohibits auto insurers from paying for medical marijuana in claims from accidents as well. This is a big deal for Michigan because they are the only state that requires auto insurers to provide unlimited lifetime medical benefits. Lifetime medical marijuana payments would generate a hefty bill for auto insurers.

While these are the three main bills being passed on to the governor’s office, HB4853, and HB4856 are also being voted on. The bills lay out sentencing guidelines, as well as a course of action for dealing with the transportation of medical marijuana in cars. We will be covering this more as the story develops, but please let us know your thoughts.

UPDATE: All bills have been approved. Read the updated story.