Thanks to Activists, Michigan’s Medical Cannabis Law Could Cover More People

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Since its passage in 2008, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act has received significant scrutiny, both from those who want to expand safe access to cannabis and those who want to maintain the status quo of prohibition. The one thing that most people can agree on is that the language of the Act, in retrospect, didn’t do enough to protect people who might qualify for medical cannabis in Michigan.

For example, because the Act didn’t specifically address safe access points or dispensaries, the state of Michigan has pushed back against any attempt to offer retail-level cannabis sales. Many businesses choose to operate on a “gray market,” opening without state licensing but only serving those who have state-issued patient or caregiver cards. Despite those best intentions, the state has repeatedly shut down cannabis businesses and arrested those who did not comply with cease and desist orders.

Michigan’s patient program is also relatively restrictive. It relies not on the best judgment of the certifying doctor, but instead a list of qualifying medical conditions. That list is relatively restrictive, and it didn’t even include post-traumatic stress disorder when the Act was passed.

As originally written, the Act offered medical cannabis protections to patients with the following qualifying conditions: cancer, HIV/AIDs, glaucoma, Hepatitis C, Nail Patella, Crohn’s Disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cachexia, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures and severe and persistent muscle spasms. With hard work and lobbying from activists, the state eventually added Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to the list.

Now, there are another ten serious conditions that could become qualifying medical conditions. State activists and medical patients presented evidence and testified about 22 medical conditions before The Medical Marihuana Review Panel on April 27, 2018. The Panel reviewed that information and decided to recommend the approval of 10 of those conditions. Although state lawmakers still need to approve these conditions, the Panel recommends that patients with the following condition be allowed to participate in the medical marijuana program:

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • ulcerative colitis
  • arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • Parkinson’s
  • autism
  • spinal cord injuries
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • chronic pain

The Medical Marihuana Review Panel did not approve nine of the conditions, including pain injury, anxiety, depression and diabetes. They also tabled the vote on three conditions, non-severe and non-chronic pain, colitis and organ transplant, which they will revisit with a vote at a future meeting due to a tie.

While there remains much work to be done to protect those who need medical access to cannabis in the state of Michigan, the potential addition of these ten conditions would be a boon to those suffering in the Great Lakes state.

 

For previous Ladybud coverage about medical marijuana programs, click here.