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Law enforcement meets on medical marijuana

If you smoke pot for medical reasons and can prove it, you’re safe. If you smoke it recreationally, you’re fair game for prosecution.

smoking cannabis marijuana medical When Michigan voters passed Proposal 1 in November, they sent authorities a clear message: Let people with debilitating diseases use marijuana to ease their suffering.

“We have legislation passed to allow use for medical reasons, but it’s still against the law,” Carrollton Township Police Chief Craig A. Oatten said after a Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police seminar on the subject.

Cultivating, possessing and selling marijuana remain federal offenses, which state laws do not override.

However, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced recently that the Drug Enforcement Agency no longer will raid medical marijuana dispensaries that state laws legalize, as has happened in California. The decision to change the government’s policy was one of President Obama’s campaign promises.

Michigan’s law, which takes effect Saturday, April 4, allows a licensed medical marijuana provider to service as many as five clients and maintain as many as 60 plants and 12.5 ounces in an enclosed, locked facility.

“The real threat to the piece of legislation is that there is no way to get the seeds,” Oatten said. “They have to buy the seeds illegally on the street to start growing.”

Midland County Prosecutor Michael Carpenter said he empathizes with people with debilitating diseases who use marijuana for relief from chronic pain and/or nausea but wants to ensure that illegal drugs “stay out of the hands of our youth.”

“Those who comply with the law are not our targets,” he said. “I’m concerned that a certain population of people will attempt to use this new law for corrupt reasons and as a means to grow and sell marijuana in our community.”

The Bureau of Health Professions is developing an identification card system for patients qualified to use marijuana and individuals qualified to grow it.

Oatten questions what will happen to plants that authorities confiscate if the provider is not present at the time of a raid.

“Do we have to protect the plants and store them somewhere because that person may be a provider?” he said.

Carpenter called marijuana “a gateway drug” to more powerful drugs and issued a warning: “If you do not legally possess a Medical Marijuana Card as contemplated and mandated by law, and you are growing or possessing marijuana, you will be prosecuted,” he said.

by Deborah Brown and Dean Bohn | The Saginaw News

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