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Legislature Passes Medical Marihuana Law Changes

Posted on December 14, 2012 by Dene Westbrook

In a surprising move, the Legislature took up and passed bills to amend the voter-initiatied Medical Marihuana law late last night.

HB 4834 allows the Department of Community Health to contract with a private firm to handle the processing of medical marijuana registration cards, easing a backlog that has frustrated medical marijuana users. The bill also would require DCH to appoint a panel, the majority of members being physicians, to consider petitions from residents asking that a particular medical condition qualify for medical marijuana treatment. The panel would make recommendations to DCH on whether such petitions should be approved or denied. And the bill would set up a dedicated fund from the fees paid by registered medical marijuana users that could only be spent to administer the law. Again the Senate amended the bill to have it take effect April 1.

HB 4851 ensures genuine physicians are working with patients to prescribe medical marijuana by defining what a “bona fide physician-patient relationship” is. The bill also defines what constitutes an enclosed structure to grow medical marijuana as required under the voter-initiated law. allows for the transport of medical marijuana in a motor vehicle under certain circumstances. It makes clear that a registered medical marijuana user or caregiver can possess the drug in a motor vehicle provided they are permanently moving the drug to a second location, clarifying an issue that has caused problems for law enforcement and patients.

SB 321 and 933 exempt medical marijuana from allowable insurance expenses for medical care. The bills would specify that an auto insurance company would not be required to cover the use of medical marijuana or related expenses.

The changes all required and received three-quarters majorities because they amended a voter-initiated law.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the League. She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or by email at sharkins@mml.org.

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