An informational meeting on the medical marijuana law in Michigan was held Monday at the Yankee Springs Township Hall. Former 87th District State Representative Mike Callton, who wrote the present medical marijuana law, Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt and Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf all spoke on the subject, as seen from their perspectives.
Yankee Springs Supervisor Mark Englerth stressed it was not a pro or anti marijuana discussion, with no debating, just information.
Callton explained the law he wrote, starting by saying when the medical marijuana bill passed in Michigan, he voted against it. He gave the reasons he got involved with the marijuana issue.
Back in the 60’s marijuana was used for recreation, but a shift occurred; it could be used possibly as a medicine.
He told of a man he came to him for chiropractic treatment who was dying of cancer and losing weight. He wanted to live to see his son born. But, he was losing weight rapidly, common to cancer patients. His doctor was trying different drugs, but they weren’t working. The man asked for marijuana three times before he was prescribed the drug. It worked, the man gained weight and lived long enough to see his son born, Callton said.
“It took me aback. I usually don’t see patients like that in my practice. I believe it helps cancer patients who can’t eat,” he said.
He told of a child who was having up to 200 seizures a week; treatment with marijuana oil reduced the seizures to less than a dozen a week and they were much less severe, he said.
“In my mind, it helps as a antidote to chronic pain, problems sleeping, and certain illnesses… “
The Journal of American Medicine reported states where medical marijuana is legalized have 24.8 fewer opioids deaths than states without the laws, he said.
Ann Arbor, Detroit and Flint have medical marijuana dispensaries that are not in operation, waiting for clarification of the law Callton authored.
Still, the law prevents sale of marijuana to non-patients, the sale of overage and dispensaries.
Callton’s bill requires municipal approval to get a license for a dispensary. It’s likely those with a felony conviction, prior drug problems and little financing to run a business would not be considered for a license by the state licensing agency, LARA.
Clear policies by all municipalities are needed to prevent arbitrary enforcement; “to clearly state why they want this or do not want it,” he said.
His law covers five types of licenses; growers, transporters, testing labs, processing centers and provision centers.
Callton said despite the growing number of states approving marijuana for recreational use, it isn’t likely Michigan will approve it in the next few years, but might around 2020. //
Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt has been an attorney for 29 years, 24 in prosecuting. She stressed her opinion on any issue does not matter; her job is to see justice is done, to enforce the laws, not make them. If someone breaks the law they will be in court, she said.
Dispensaries are against the law, even those not open while waiting for clarification of the law.
“If Barry County has a dispensary, we have a problem with that.”
Most people want to follow the law, she said. “Our police are exemplary and they will work with people with minor violations who just don’t understand.”
However, if they are repeat offenders, or those who will take a mile when given an inch, “they will talk to the judge.” If people call to ask questions because they don’t want to make a mistake, she said, that’s fine with her.
She urged parents and other caregivers to make sure the young and the elderly are kept safe with regard to guns, registered or not, or any drug, be it alcohol or marijuana, to help her in her job of “keeping our most vulnerable citizens safe.”
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf said in his entire career in law enforcement, marijuana use ha been against the law.
“It’s a new thing,” for all law enforcement and all must adapt to the change, the rookies and especially the older officers.
There are 19 amendments to the medical marijuana law that they must learn to conduct, “a fair and impartial investigation,” he said. Barry County is watching what is happening in other states that have legalized marijuana, he said. The federal government holds that any use of marijuana is against the law, the state now says it’s not in some cases, creating another concern. “It’s a change, and we have to change,” he said.