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Lawmakers attempt to override state department on marijuana dispensaries

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The Michigan Court of Appeals struck down Brian Reed's medical marijuana legal defense today.

Lawmakers in Lansing say they want a seamless transition as marijuana dispensaries start to get licensed.

Democrats in the House and Senate introduced legislation today. A few Republicans have voiced support of the bills. The legislation would let dispensaries keep their doors open while they wait for a license.

Pot shops have to close their doors by December 15 or risk not getting a license. That’s the same day a state board will begin accepting applications for licenses. A state department overseeing medical marijuana dispensaries announced this rule earlier in the month.

Patients and dispensary owners decried the decision. They say cutting off a source of medication would be bad for patient’s health.

“I thought that this was taken care of. I thought that we were done coming here and fighting for this,” said Ida Chinonis. Her daughter Bella has been a medical marijuana patient for years. “I don’t understand why we are still here. We need safe access. I cannot stockpile five different medications for over a year.”

The state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs says its rule ensures the licensing procedure is fair and efficient.

But military veteran Justin Nichols, who uses marijuana medication for pain and to help him sleep, says the department’s rule is a slap in the face to veterans.

 

“This is providing a massive benefit,” he said. “I would say the biggest one was letting me get outside of myself.”

Representative Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, is a House bill sponsor while Senator David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, is a bill sponsor in the other chamber.

Rabhi said the state department overreached.

 

“It can be a matter of life and death,” he said. “So we can’t stand on the sidelines and let the government stand in the way of people getting safe access to care.”

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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