Michigan to begin marijuana program
thoughts from the maji-
“The vague nature of the way that the initiative was written allows for law enforcement and government officials to control the rate at which the program deploys, the same thing was done here in California.. The answer to this? STARK Raving and Rabid prescience and tenacity when it comes to communicating and pressuring officials to adapt the initiative to accomplish the true goal of balancing the health of the State.
HASSLE them until they do not want to hassle you anymore and are SICK of the issue, and just want to be left alone again in their tired little deadend lives…. this is the latest big chance to have the public’s attention on them, let’s make the attention uncomfortable, let them remember that their positions in government and law enforcement are not theirs to use for power-mongering, influence-peddling, or personal political agendas. It is time for All Americans not just Michiganers to take back their personal Constitutions and in the process the collective Constitution will be restored… Not rocket science here folks, just have to step up and show for yourselves with courage, tenacity and steadfastness.
Thousands of people expected to sign up starting today
DETROIT (AP) — The first wave of what could be tens of thousands of people signing up for Michigan’s medical-marijuana program is expected in Lansing today.
For Greg Francisco, of Paw Paw, who is organizing the mass submission in the state capital, it will be a sweet moment after a decade of working to legalize medical marijuana.
“In a year, we’re going to look back and say, ‘What was the fuss all about?'” said Francisco, executive director of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association. “People have been using medical marijuana in this state all along. All this does is give them some legal protection.”
Rules for Michigan’s medical-marijuana program went into effect Saturday, and the state begins taking applications today. The first cards will be issued to patients later this month. But questions linger about how the program will work in practice, and resolving all the confusion may require additional legislation or intervention by the courts.
Michigan residents can get a doctor’s recommendation to use marijuana to relieve pain and other symptoms. Patients can register with the state and receive a card protecting them from arrest for growing, using or possessing the drug, which remains illegal under federal law.
Twelve other states have similar programs.
An analysis by the House Fiscal Agency estimates between 2,000 and 55,000 patients may sign up for Michigan’s program.
John Hazley, 39, plans to register “as soon as possible.” The Detroit man says he smokes marijuana to relieve pain in his knee and back from old injuries, and worries about becoming dependent on pain pills.
“Usually when I take the pills, I’m tired and sleepy, and when I take the marijuana it gives me a boost,” Hazley said.
In the five months since voters approved the measure, there’s been confusion about what the law will mean for police, prosecutors and patients.
For instance, Michigan’s law doesn’t say how patients will obtain marijuana or seeds to grow their own, nor does it address whether employers can enforce drug-free workplace rules if workers are registered to legally use marijuana. It also leaves unsaid how police will enforce the limit of 12 mature plants and 2.5 ounces permitted each patient.
Advocates and officials say many of those issues may end up in court. The state legislature also can modify the law with a three-quarters vote in each chamber.
“There’s going to be a lot of litigation here, there’s going to be a lot of court time … to answer these unanswered questions and put some solid color in those gray areas,” said James McCurtis, spokesman for the Department of Community Health, which runs the program through its Bureau of Health Professions.
State officials initially sought to head off many of those questions by writing some of the strictest rules in the nation for patients in the program, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
Among the proposals were random inspections of growing sites, mandatory inventories of marijuana grown by patients or their designated caregivers and allowing the release of patients’ names and other information to law-enforcement agencies. Many of the rules went beyond the law approved by voters.
The officials drafting the rules were trying to plug perceived holes in the law, said Rae Ramsdell, director of licensing for the department’s Bureau of Health Professions.
“You’re trying to anticipate what kind of problems you’re going to have and address those problems before they happened,” she said.
In an internal e-mail two days after the Nov. 4 election, one official described the law as “a hopelessly short-sighted and simple-minded ballot initiative” with “some really poorly worded language.”
McCurtis said the official, Kurt Krause, then-acting director of the Office of Legal Affairs and now deputy director of the department, was referring to areas of confusion in the legislation and was concerned about the department seeming to offer legal advice to the public.
When draft rules for the program were released last December, there was an immediate backlash from patients and their advocates. Many turned out for a public hearing in January to blast the proposed rules.
A review by the State Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules dated Dec. 1, 2008, also determined a number of early rules “exceed that which is required” under the law. It called one on denying incomplete applications “somewhat harsh” and another “arbitrary and capricious.” Random inspections of growth sites were deemed a possible violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.
“The comments from all the different groups made us go back and re-examine what the law said, and looking at what the law said drove the decisions to remove a lot of the enforcement-type language and not to try to anticipate the problems that might come up, but to work within the very tight statute that we had,” Ramsdell said.
The final draft of the rules, unveiled in February, pulled back on almost every point of contention.
“We had to kind of go away from the enforcement perspective and think about how we could get these people registered and use marijuana for medical purposes,” Ramsdell said. “That for us is a huge shift because we are used to enforcing laws that are put into place. And in this case, all we are responsible for doing is putting into place a registry.”