Sweeping Medical marijuana reform approved by House

The House Judiciary Committee on March 29 approved a bipartisan package of bills clearing ambiguities in the medical marijuana law to protect legitimate patients and provide municipalities and law enforcement officials with a clear framework in which to administer the intent of the law. ''The work we have accomplished during the past several months removes the gray areas surrounding the use of medical marijuana,'' said state Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia, committee chair. ''We have produced a proposal more in line with the intent of voters when they approved the use of medical marijuana in 2008.'' Changes in the bills include: · House Bill 4834 now clearly defines law enforcement officials who have access to the medical marijuana registry, increases the burden on law enforcement officials to a standard of probable cause to have access to the registry and establishes penalties for inappropriate access to the registry. · HB 4834 also eliminates the requirement for a photo taken within the past six months on patient and caregiver cards, and specifies that the Secretary of State's office not be required to transfer photos used on driver's licenses for use on certification cards. It also sets a one-year deadline for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to privatize the process of certifying patients and caregivers and issuing cards. · HB 4851 amendments remove the psychological assessment component of a medical examination for certification, change ''in-person medical exam'' to ''in-person medical evaluation'' and remove the need for examination and treatment from follow-up care required by the certifying physician. · Other amendments to HB 4851 provide for the transportation of live plants in a vehicle under certain circumstances, and specify that felons convicted of assault crimes would be banned from being caregivers. Another change clarifies the use of affirmative defense in medical marijuana court cases. · HB 4856 was amended to define useable marijuana for purposes of transportation. · There were no changes to HB 4853, which clarifies sentencing guidelines. ''We worked very closely with and listened to the input from all of the stakeholders involved in this issue,'' Walsh said. ''Our work group traveled across the state to meet with interested parties, and the committee spent three weeks listening to testimony regarding our proposed reform. We certainly did our due diligence and have produced an amended plan that provides common-sense guidelines on the growth, transportation and use of medical marijuana.'' The bills now go to the full House for consideration. Published: Mon, Apr 2, 2012