The backlash against medical marijuana in Michigan, partly as a result of the poor language of the existing law, partly as a result of the abuse of the existing law by some people, and partly because of conservative opposition to the entire idea, has taken three general forms.

The first form of the backlash is by prosecutors (including the attorney general) and judges who apply the law strictly.

The second backlash is from local governments using legitimate (and illegitimate) zoning regulations to regulate or prohibit lawful activity.

The third backlash is coming from the legistlature (and attorney general) in the form of new laws and attorney general opinions.   This backlash is led by Republican Rick Jones of Grand Ledge and Attorney General Bill Schuette.  (Elsewhere in this blog, I note the attorney general’s recent opinion limiting the way caregivers can grow and manage their plants.)

Currently, 22 bills are pending in the legislature that somehow affect the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.  Over the next several weeks, we will examine each of the pending bills.

First, they are going after the doctors.  In particular, they are going after the “certification mills.”  Currently, a doctor merely has to certify that the patient has a debilitating condition that would benefit from treatment by medical marijuana.  Most patients are not aware that, if they obtain a certification from a doctor and obtain a medical marijuana card, then the patient could still be forced to prove that he or she satisfied the criteria for a debilitating condition.  Nevertheless, the vast majority of medical marijuana patients have been certified by only a handful of doctors, whom do nothing more than have a patient fill out a form, answer a few questions,and  then certify the patient’s qualification.  Everyone familiar with this process, whether proponent or opponent, knows it is a joke and nothing more than a de facto legalization of marijuana for anyone willing to pay a second-rate M.D. or D.O.  $100.00 for an “examination.”  (However, there are some certification clinics, run by doctors, that legitimately establish a doctor-patient relationship and consider the patient’s request in a proper medical context.)

As a result of the certification mills, there is now pending in the Michigan House Bill No. 4851. The bill would require a 4 step test to determine if a patient and physician had a “bona fide physician-patient relationship.” In particular, the bill provides:

1. The physician must complete an in person, physical examination and “full assessment” of both medical history and current medical and psychological condition.

2. The physician treated the patient for the “debilitating condition” for a reason other than obtaining certification; and the doctor has maintained records for the patient “in accord with medically accepted standards.”

3.  The physician has a “reasonable expectation” that he or she will provide follow-up care and treatment to “monitor the efficacy” of the use of marijuana.

4. The physician has notified the patient’s “primary care physician” “if appropriate.”

Additionally, the bill provides that an “enclosed locked facility” could only be accessed by 1) a patient’s own facility if there was no caregiver, or 2) a caregiver for a patient (a patient could not access his or her caregiver’s facility.)

Advocates say that those who wish to continue to use medical marijuana should begin aggressively demanding that their primary care doctors consider prescribing medical marijuana so that it becomes a treatment option for mainstream medical providers.

Nye & Associates specialize in Criminal Defense cases with charges of marijuana in Roscommon, Crawford, Saginaw, and the surrounding area.

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