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Medical Marijuana Distribution System Working Document


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#1 RevThad

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 06:55 PM

Dearest members of the medical marijuana community,

In recent weeks there has been a lot of uncertainty across the state, caused mainly by the raids, court rulings, and statements by civil servants. The goal of this letter is to clarify and bring focus back to what the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act intended and does provide for. This may seem like a tough task if you listen to all of the various voices chiming in across the state, yet I think we as a community can handle it. So buckle in and hang on for the ride, well it won't be that exciting, but I do ask that you read all the way to the conclusion and then verify on your own what this letter claims.

So here we go.

The MICHIGAN MEDICAL MARIHUANA ACT (aka) Initiated Law 1 of 2008 made 3 declarations.

That medical research has discovered beneficial uses for marihuana, that include “treating or alleviating the pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with a variety of debilitating medical conditions.”

That changing state law would have the practical effect of protecting from arrest the vast majority of people who have a medical need to use marihuana.

That Michigan would join in the effort of not enforcing federal law when it comes to the medical use and cultivation of marihuana, for the health and welfare of its citizens.

These declarations layout a very firm footing for the intent of the law. It declares that there is indeed a medical purpose for marijuana, that the law is intended to protect people from arrest that use it medicinally, and that for the health and welfare of the citizens of the state federal law would be ignored when it comes to use and cultivation of medicinal marijuana.

Those words are very much in step with the ballot initiative that we the people voted on. Far too many folks try to read something more or less into these simple words. The same mistake is made quite often when reading the rest of the law. To avoid this mistake, let us heed the words of the Court of Appeals when they suggest that the plain language of the MMMA is the correct way to interpret the law, and comparing it to the obvious intent of the ballot initiative is the correct way to weigh the language.

Still here? Great now we are going to get to the nuts and bolts

#2 RevThad

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 06:55 PM

I am going to lay this out in a bit of a different order than is customary when discussing this issue. Most people want to know whether patient to patient, cg to cg, cg to patient, or patient to cg transfers are legal or not. With that in mind let us start with what we know is not legal, the law itself lays this out in very plain language and even structures the penalties.

(k) Any registered qualifying patient or registered primary caregiver who sells marihuana to someone who is not allowed to use marihuana for medical purposes under this act shall have his or her registry identification card revoked and is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both, in addition to any other penalties for the distribution of marihuana.

So where does that leave us? The only people that a registered patient or registered caregiver cannot sell marijuana to are those not covered by the act.

So who is covered by this act? The recent Court of Appeals ruling (People vs Redden) makes that very clear:

“The language supports the view that registered patients under
§ 4 and unregistered patients under § 8 would be able to assert medical use of marijuana as a defense. Accordingly, we hold that the district court did not err by permitting defendants to raise the affirmative defense even though neither satisfied the registry-identification-card requirement of § 4.”

They even point to the ballot language as guidance:

“• Permit registered and unregistered patients and primary caregivers to assert medical reasons for using marijuana as a defense to any prosecution involving
marijuana.”

So how do we know if an unregistered person is a qualifying patient? The law defines that again in plain language: “(h) "Qualifying patient" means a person who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition.”

Note there is no need to be registered in that definition,.

So lets sum this little section up before we get to far into the law.

The law in plain language limits sales to folks covered by this act, those people are both registered and unregistered patients and caregivers. Note: that this falls perfectly in step with the definition of medical use, and handles the transfer and acquisition portions for both patients and caregivers.

One last side note before we move on, in the definitions section of the law one will notice there is a clear differentiation of a registered qualifying patient and qualifying patient, and registered primary caregiver and primary caregiver.

#3 RevThad

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 06:55 PM

As much as Justice O'Connell wants to ignore it there is one particular clause that makes his entire opinion moot.

(e) All other acts and parts of acts inconsistent with this act do not apply to the medical use of marihuana as provided for by this act.



So what do we have so far?

First it means that the law intended and provides for patients and caregivers to have access to marijuana for medical purposes without fear of arrest and prosecution.

Second it means that even unregistered patients and caregivers are given protections under the law.

Next, it means that patients and caregivers are allowed to transfer and even sell to other patients and caregivers, and that “Any such compensation shall not constitute the sale of controlled substances.”.

Further, that other laws and acts of the state DO NOT apply to the medical use of marijuana as provided for by the MMMA. That's right any other act in the state that applies to “the acquisition, possession, cultivation, manufacture, use, internal possession, delivery, transfer, or transportation of marihuana or paraphernalia” do not apply to a patient or caregiver following the guidelines of the MMMA.

We also know that any municipality that is using federal law as a means to violate a patient or caregiver's rights under the MMMA is in direct violation of the laws of the State of Michigan as enacted under the MMMA.

Finally, it is quite obvious that there are only 2 channels that a patient or caregiver can acquire marijuana, through legal means as provided under the MMMA, or through the black market. We will touch on that vary issue in the next section....

#4 RevThad

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 06:58 PM

UPDATED

So lets look at those 2 channels that a patient or caregiver has for procuring meds. Legal means as provided for under the act and illegal means (aka the black market). For some reason LEO seems to think that all transactions fit into the latter category. As we have shown above that just isn't the case. However, as LEO terrorizes folks (that are following the law), via intimidation, raids, public statements, and other violations of the law, they are actually forcing folks back into the black markets just to get something close to medication.

Logically, one would think that legal, safe, and open clubs would be embraced by those in law enforcement, if for no other reason it would free them up to investigate and possible solve or prevent actual crime. With officers being cut monthly in the various departments across the state, prioritizing the use of resources and manpower should be of the utmost importance to the various municipalities. Yet in their overzealous pursuit of the evil marijuana, they are actually forcing some patients to support actual criminal enterprises like the cartels, and thus fall farther behind in their struggle with organized crime. Talk about irony.

So lets get back to the structuring of a distribution system that the law does allow. The basics are pretty simple, we know the following:

  • Transfers and sales are allowed by registered patients and caregivers and to anybody covered under the MMMA
  • Registered Patients and Caregivers are protected from arrest as long as they comply with the limits in Section 4
  • Any Patient or Caregiver is protected under Section 8 even if not in compliance with Section 4
  • Any person assisting a registered patient with the use of medical marijuana is protected from arrest
  • Medical use of marijuana includes the acquisition, transfer, transport, cultivation... etc... of marijuana and paraphernalia
  • The law's intent is to guarantee an uninterrupted supply of medication to patients without the fear of punishment or harassment.

With those legal facts in mind, how can it be argued that Compassion Clubs and Co-ops are not the best way to guarantee that uninterrupted supply of medication and knowledge.

Compassion clubs that are made up of registered patients and caregivers, can legally distribute medication to anybody covered under the act, this would include both registered and unregistered qualifying patients, registered caregivers, and visiting qualifying patients (aka out of state card holders). The only legally required hurdle for a patient to be allowed access to such a distribution center and acquire medication is a "written certification" from a doctor.







Please add any and all comments to this thread. I am interested in all opinions, even dissenting ones. By hammering out the details, and finding the things we do agree upon, we not only educate each other, but we also become stronger as a group.

I look forward to reading every word in this topic.

I wish you all the very best, and may we together achieve the goal of freedom for patients and caregivers across the state.

#5 RevThad

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 09:51 AM

Thanks Joe for the title update, I like it, and the notes you have added help a lot.

#6 westmich

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 10:42 AM

Has it been decided how these changes will be approached? From what I am reading it sounds like it is being approached by modifying the existing law. That will take a 3/4 majority and is very, very unlikely to pass. I am not against it, but I am wondering if our efforts would be better spent on a different approach.

IMHO, a new ballot initiative would be more effective. Draft an initiative that does what we want it to do, but only builds on the existing law and does not change it. Things like "a registered patient or caregiver, as defined by the MMA of 2008, can do A, B, and C..." This ballot could be drafted over the next six months with lots of direct input from the community via this site. When a final document is reached by say next Spring or early Summer, it could be posted here as a PDF, printed out by individuals or compassion clubs, and a wave of signature gathers could go out to the streets. It would be an off year for voting which means lower turnout which means a better advantage for us(people who know and are in favor or more likely to vote than people who are not in favor and don't fully know the initiative).

What could be in the initiative, well a lot of things, but I would push for two items: 1) not-for-profit collectives (a place where patients and caregivers can buy and sell overages to other patients and caregivers), and 2) some form of decriminalization (it could include small amounts, LEO priorities, and fines for overages in plants or meds for patients and caregivers as opposed to criminal charges).

#7 RevThad

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 10:54 AM

Westmich thanks for the input. The ballot initiative could possibly be a good way to update those issues, that being said we must first be able to clarify what the existing law does and doesn't allow. The soonest we could get a ballot initiative voted on would be the 2012 general election, so we have time to work on some sort of draft for that.

As to your first point, we are not attempting to modify the law with this project, at least that is what my understanding is. We are attempting to layout a foundation that is allowed under current law, for making sure patients have access to their meds via a legal distribution system. I have no doubt that compassion clubs, and caregivers are the keys to that. I am still unsure as to how a for profit "dispensary" fits into the equation, but that is why we are having an open dialogue on this...

Thanks again for your post and ideas.

#8 westmich

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 11:04 AM

Wow! I did not know we would have to wait until 2012. I just assumed a voter initiative could be done in any year.

Well, in that case I would say rule changes from the MDCH would be the fastest and most direct way to go. Rule changes could allow for "collectives". Not a collective in the sense of a farm, but one in the sense that could hold marijuana for patients and caregivers. I believe one of the original rules was that patients and caregivers were supposed to bring their overages to the local state police station. That didn't go over well with anybody, but it clearly sets a precedent that MDCH rules can be applied to overages. Why not setup a set of rules that states patients and caregivers can take their overages to a collective?

#9 Annnie

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 11:18 AM

When the mi state police representative at the mdch rules hearing addressed the topic of overages He said the msp would definately not be interested in keeping overages and thought the proper thing to do would be to transfer it to other patients.. So why are they making it illegal all of a sudden to do that?

#10 RevThad

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 11:20 AM

Wow! I did not know we would have to wait until 2012. I just assumed a voter initiative could be done in any year.

Well, in that case I would say rule changes from the MDCH would be the fastest and most direct way to go. Rule changes could allow for "collectives". Not a collective in the sense of a farm, but one in the sense that could hold marijuana for patients and caregivers. I believe one of the original rules was that patients and caregivers were supposed to bring their overages to the local state police station. That didn't go over well with anybody, but it clearly sets a precedent that MDCH rules can be applied to overages. Why not setup a set of rules that states patients and caregivers can take their overages to a collective?

We could have possibly gotten on the ballot this year, but that process would have had to start months ago, between drafting it, and getting enough signatures to get it on the ballot... I could be wrong about 2012, but I believe that is the next statewide election cycle.

#11 Hempcheff

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 11:34 AM

Westmich thanks for the input. The ballot initiative could possibly be a good way to update those issues, that being said we must first be able to clarify what the existing law does and doesn't allow. The soonest we could get a ballot initiative voted on would be the 2012 general election, so we have time to work on some sort of draft for that.

As to your first point, we are not attempting to modify the law with this project, at least that is what my understanding is. We are attempting to layout a foundation that is allowed under current law, for making sure patients have access to their meds via a legal distribution system. I have no doubt that compassion clubs, and caregivers are the keys to that. I am still unsure as to how a for profit "dispensary" fits into the equation, but that is why we are having an open dialogue on this...

Thanks again for your post and ideas.


is that the real difference between a CC and a Dispensary? CC's are NFP, and Dispensaries are for profit?

so a Dispensary (for profit) cannot act as a CC , but a CC can have it as a "department" so to speak by providing medicine, genetics, etc...?

#12 RevThad

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 11:42 AM

is that the real difference between a CC and a Dispensary? CC's are NFP, and Dispensaries are for profit?

so a Dispensary (for profit) cannot act as a CC , but a CC can have it as a "department" so to speak by providing medicine, genetics, etc...?

I guess it would depend on the structure of the dispensary... For example who is running it, who is distributing what and to who... those are all valid arguments, I am just a bit fuzzy as to what such distribution would be considered. In such cases the courts usually look at the primary purpose of an organization.

My understanding of a CC is that while some distribution may occur, the bigger purpose is to provide support and knowledge to its members. Perhaps that is the difference, I would definitely enjoy hearing other opinions on it.

#13 Hempcheff

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 11:47 AM

I guess it would depend on the structure of the dispensary... For example who is running it, who is distributing what and to who... those are all valid arguments, I am just a bit fuzzy as to what such distribution would be considered. In such cases the courts usually look at the primary purpose of an organization.

My understanding of a CC is that while some distribution may occur, the bigger purpose is to provide support and knowledge to its members. Perhaps that is the difference, I would definitely enjoy hearing other opinions on it.


thanks rev

#14 westmich

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 11:51 AM

is that the real difference between a CC and a Dispensary? CC's are NFP, and Dispensaries are for profit?

so a Dispensary (for profit) cannot act as a CC , but a CC can have it as a "department" so to speak by providing medicine, genetics, etc...?


A "dispensary" is a generic term. A collective is a type of dispensary, but it more defined and has a lot less negative stereo types associated with it, IMHO. I am looking at this as a selling point as well on what can actually be passed. A compassion club could serve as a collective as well assuming the members want that and they get some sort of local blessing.

My understanding of any dispensing being done at a compassion club is that it happens during closed meetings or back at members' homes after the meeting. Compassion clubs that allow patients to walk in and purchase meds directly from the club would be news to me, but I am from the "other side" of the state:)

#15 Silverblue

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 12:35 PM

I like the idea of the CC better than a dispensary. A CC does more than a dispensary. A CC could be the place to handle overages. A CC may include having a support group. Speakers are invited to give their perspectives and share experiences. Someone needing a cg could find one there or find someone who might know one. Dispensaries, as far as I know, only do one thing.

Sb


#16 RevThad

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 03:18 PM

Bump to notify of updates to the earlier sections...

#17 herb green

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 03:30 PM

Compassion clubs should be the dispenseries

And not a straight dispensery either

Many dispenseries in California just buy product from growers then profit

Not ideal

Here growers come to the compassion club and distribute what they have

Well both work...community and continued supply are more reliable when a "farmers market" sort of element is added along with the house buying low and selling high

You know what mean?

That's more like a collective...people that are members can buy there and/or sell there then give a percentage to the house

Works

Its Best

Its also simple !

#18 drtarzanmd

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 03:30 PM

I like the idea of the CC better than a dispensary. A CC does more than a dispensary. A CC could be the place to handle overages. A CC may include having a support group. Speakers are invited to give their perspectives and share experiences. Someone needing a cg could find one there or find someone who might know one. Dispensaries, as far as I know, only do one thing.

Sb



Exactly " Silverblue " That how it should be ...

Compassion Club will not let their Members Suffer ...


#19 drtarzanmd

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 03:37 PM

Compassion clubs should be the dispenseries

And not a straight dispensery either

Many dispenseries in California buy product from growers then profit

Not ideal

Here growers come to the compassion club and distribute what they have

Well both work...community and continued supply are more reliable when a "farmers market" sort of element is added along with the house buying low and selling high

You know what mean?

That's more like a collective...people that are members can buy there and/or sell there then give a percentage to the house

Works

Its Best

Its also simple !



Thats how they all should be doing it ...

Keeping things Private and not open to the public ...

Clubs taking care of their members ...


#20 herb green

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 03:57 PM

Thats how they all should be doing it ...

Keeping things Private and not open to the public ...

Clubs taking care of their members ...


You got it brother!

exactly right

Members that get to participate... not just become a customer to an over priced bud merchant haha!

That's not that clubs shouldnt buy and sell but clubs should decide what the appropriate level of profit is or choose to just keep prices within reason

Do unto others you know...

And that's how it gets done! :D




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