Traverse City Record-Eagle


March 23, 2014

Medical pot bills would OK edibles, dispensaries

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The 20 marijuana plants Chuck Ream grows are perfectly legal under Michigan law. It’s the pot-butter cookies he makes from them that could get him arrested.

Ream, a former marijuana dispensary manager in Ann Arbor, is one of roughly 118,000 patients and 27,000 caregivers licensed by the state to use and grow marijuana. But more than five years after Michigan voters legalized medical marijuana, advocates say gaps in the law cause needless confusion and prosecution.

Two Republican House bills would clarify the law by legalizing dispensaries and edibles. Neither was directly addressed in the 2008 law, but court rulings have since judged them illegal.

“The prosecutors and police have been using it as a weapon in a war of prohibition, which has only resulted in law-abiding citizens being turned into criminals,” said Bruce Leach, a criminal defense lawyer in Flint. One of his clients was charged with delivery of marijuana this past week after police raided his dispensary in June.

A bill by Rep. Mike Callton of Nashville would legalize dispensaries, or businesses that sell marijuana, to registered patients and caregivers. The Michigan Supreme Court deemed dispensaries illegal in a 4-1 ruling last year, but some cities still offer licenses and many dispensaries post their address and hours online. The bill passed the state House 95-14 in December.

Of the 20 states where medical marijuana is legal, 14 allow dispensaries, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

A bill by Rep. Eileen Kowall of White Lake deals with marijuana on a smaller scale. It would allow patients and caregivers to make marijuana-infused products, including edible and topical forms, in specific quantities. One ounce of usable marijuana would be equivalent to 16 ounces of a solid product, 72 fluid ounces of a liquid or seven grams of a gas. Patients can have 2.5 ounces of dried marijuana leaves or flowers currently. The bill passed the House 100-9 in December.

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