A bill that proposes to restrict what medical marijuana patients can do on private property is set to have its first hearing today.
The bill, SB 783, was introduced by Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) and Jim Marleau (R- Lake Orion) on Feb. 12. It was originally assigned to the Government Operation Committee before landing in the Judiciary Committee, a body chaired by Sen. Jones. The Judiciary included SB 783 on their agenda for their weekly meeting scheduled on Feb. 18, which begins at 2:30.
The bill contains two proposed restrictions on what licensed and registered participants in Michigan's Medical Marihuana Program (MMP) can do on private property. The first would prevent patients from smoking marijuana on "ANY PORTION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY THAT IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC." The implication is that patients would be banned from smoking in places where others could see them, like in their backyard or on a porch, even if the smell of cannabis was not detectable beyond the property line.
A similar provision was proposed in Arizona, but not by a house of government- it was a Homeowners Association. Arizona passed a medical marijuana law in 2010 but the Association in Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix, earlier this year tried to restrict patients from using cannabis on their porch or in their yard. Under threat of a signature drive to overturn their policy the Association relented after only a few days; letters were sent to all residents of the Association informing them that the policy had been dropped.
A second part of SB 783-s proposed changes include allowing landlords to forbid the possession and use of marijuana in rental properties. Specifically, the bill proposes to amend the medical marijuana Act to read:
This act DOES not permit any person to... Possess marihuana, or otherwise engage in the medical use of marihuana...ON PRIVATE PROPERTY, IN VIOLATION OF A PROHIBITION ESTABLISHED BY THE PROPERTY OWNER. THIS SUBPARAGRAPH DOES NOT APPLY TO A LESSEE OF PRIVATE RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY EXCEPT AS TO THE OWNER'S PROHIBITION AGAINST SMOKING OR GROWING MARIHUANA.
All changes to the language of the Act appear in CAPS. A second portion of the bill adds a second reference to smoking marijuana:
This act DOES not permit any person to... Smoke marihuana...ON PRIVATE PROPERTY, IN VIOLATION OF A PROHIBITION ESTABLISHED BY THE PROPERTY OWNER.
The medical marijuana community is largely united in opposition to the bills. Sen. Jones has a history of introducing bills that disfavor medical marijuana use; he has passed legislation to prevent insurance companies from any obligation to pay for medical marijuana and suggested removing glaucoma from the list of conditions that qualify an individual for use of medicinal cannabis.
Earlier this year he introduced legislation that would allow Child Protective Services the right to petition the Court to re-evaluate the medical necessity of any parent's use of medical marijuana. That bill, SB 736, empowers the Court to determine if the medical use of marijuana by parents constitutes a hazard to any children in the home, stating that marijuana use "MIGHT BE INTERFERING WITH THE ABILITY, JUDGMENT, OR SKILL TO PARENT OR CARE FOR THE CHILD". The Court could assign their own physical examination, and invalidate the person's legal right to use cannabis or face losing their children.
Advocates were outraged when this legislation was introduced on January 15. The bill is assigned to Sen. Jones' Judiciary Committee but has not been given a hearing to date.