Traverse City Record-Eagle


November 14, 2013

Mich. Senate OKs sale of marijuana at pharmacies

LANSING (AP) — State lawmakers on Wednesday began laying the groundwork for the production and sale of marijuana from Michigan pharmacies, contingent on the federal government also deciding to reclassify the drug as a medical treatment.

Legislation approved 22-16 by the Senate would create a second medical marijuana system in a state whose voters legalized the drug for medical purposes five years ago.

Supporters said the 129,000 residents now allowed to smoke pot to treat cancer and other illnesses could continue growing their own or buying it from nearly 27,000 licensed caregivers.

If the bill becomes law and federal agencies reclassify marijuana as a Schedule 2 drug, patients could stick with the current system or give up their cannabis card and apply for an “enhanced” one allowing them to obtain the drug from pharmacies.

To get a card, the patient could not have been convicted of a drug offense, would have to surrender his or her ID card issued under the existing law and be at least 18 years old. Suppliers and participating pharmacies would undergo annual inspections.

“It’s a straightforward bill that seeks to treat medical marijuana like other drugs or at least offer that option to our people — one that will ensure safe and secure production followed by testing to protect seriously ill people who consume it,” said Sen. Roger Kahn, a Saginaw Township Republican and practicing physician who is sponsoring the bill headed to the House.

Among the measure’s backers is Prairie Plant Systems Inc., which supplies medical marijuana to the Canadian government and is interested in growing the product in Michigan.

The vote was mostly along party lines, with majority Republicans supporting the bill and Democrats opposing it. One Democrat and five Republican switched over.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer said the legislation would do nothing to make marijuana more accessible for patients, some who have struggled to obtain it after authorities and courts slammed the door on marijuana dispensaries.

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