Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

December 28, 2013

Another View: Improvements needed to medical pot law

The end of the legislative year is here again and, as is becoming custom in Michigan, controversy reigned as the majority GOP worked the rules to advance legislation that minority Democrats fought loudly against.

First, though, a word on good work done at the Capitol ... Lawmakers at last made inroads to clarify medical marijuana services. While not yet through the Senate, a well-reasoned and widely supported package would enact changes in the spirit that voters intended when they approved medical marijuana in the first place.

The bills would allow dispensaries, called procurement centers, to be established in communities that want them. They also allow manufacturing of edible marijuana products, which some patients prefer to smoking. A third bill would allow pharmacies to handle marijuana, but only take place if federal marijuana laws are changed to allow prescriptions.

Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, was a sponsor of the dispensary bill and advocated for the changes. A member of the Capital Caucus of mid-Michigan lawmakers, Callton has worked on issues with the marijuana law for some time. Strong support in the House was noteworthy.

This legislation needs to become law.

For a word on the bad, turn to last week’s ugly fight over legislation that requires insurance companies to separate abortion coverage from health care policies, requiring women wanting such coverage to purchase a separate rider. It becomes law 90 days after passage because Michigan allows the Legislature to pass statutes that have been initiated by petitions, thus eliminating the need for an election and also bypassing the governor.

The law allowed no exceptions for rape or incest, prompting critics to complain that Michigan women must now buy “rape insurance” to protect themselves. Given that only 3.3 percent of the 22,699 abortions in Michigan in 2012 were paid for by insurance, many wonder why such a bill was needed. Indeed, state insurance officials said only one of 12 companies offering plans in the insurance marketplace offers elective abortion coverage in small group plans and none offer it with individual plans.

Those disappointed by the Legislature have options.

First, elect lawmakers who support abortion rights. Second, work to change the procedures that allow bypassing a statewide vote or a governor’s veto. Neither will be easy.

Lansing State Journal

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