The agency that set up the Panel now dissolves it; reason is failure to comply with Michigan law. Is this why Clarkson retired?
LANSING- It took them nearly four years to convene the Panel, and now they say they did it wrong.
The Medical Marihuana Review Panel, whose formation was required in 2009 but was convened for the first time in late 2012, has been dissolved by the Agency who created it. The reason: They failed to follow Michigan Law when they created the Panel.
"After a careful review of the Medical Marihuana Act... the make-up of the current Medical Marihuana Review Panel does not meet the administrative rule requirements... As a result, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will be appointing a new panel that complies with the law. No further meeting of the review panel will be held until the new panel is appointed," said the government in a private communication sent to a select few individuals.
This information was not posted on LARA's website and was not released in a press statement. The Panel's deconstruction was revealed in a letter sent to Panel participants on April 29, 2013 and was just recently obtained by The Compassion Chronicles.
Medical marijuana patients who participated in the sessions of the Panel, including a video testimony taping session held recently at the Michigan Library in Lansing, were not notified and may still be under the mistaken assumption that LARA's promises were still going to be honored.
The issue with the panel is the composition of the membership. Per the LARA letter:
"R 333.131 requires the review panel to include not more than 15 members and must include the Michigan chief medical executive and seven members of the Advisory Committee on Pain and Symptom Management. These seven members must include four licensed physicians and three non-physicians... As a result, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will be appointing a new panel that complies with the law."
Physicians and other participants in the previous Panel are asked to reapply for membership in the new Panel, including resubmitting their resume and a letter of interest. LARA has a new Director, Steve Arwood, and it was recently revealed that the head of the Medical Marihuana Program, Celeste Clarkson, retired less than three weeks ago- just about the same time the letter was sent out to Panel members.
The failure to assemble a correct Panel is a major embarrassment to the State Government, especially considering the comments made to the Huffington Post in August 2012:
"Why has it taken LARA so long to put the panel together? Celeste Clarkson, who heads up the state's medical marijuana program, told The Huffington Post the agency had to finalize the language for petition forms and do the legwork necessary to assemble a fair and balanced panel. She also noted that for a time, the state lacked a chief medical officer."
LARA created the new petition forms in 2012 and summarily discarded all petitions submitted prior, requiring patients that had been waiting for their Panel review to reapply. It seems incredulous to imagine that the Panel, which was composed at the direction of law and took months to assemble, was done in a manner that was not in accordance with that same law. That this error would be cited to overturn months of positive results for medical marijuana patients, in a state where positives have been hard to come by, suggests that the Panel's discrepancy was intentional and created with this eventuality in mind.
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is responsible for administering the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMA). Contained within the language of the 2008 Act is a requirement that new conditions be reviewed and added to the list of illnesses that could qualify a Michigan citizen for the medical use of marijuana. The MMA requires that the panel meet no more than six months after a petition to add a new ailment has been received by the department responsible for running the program.
Under Governor Granholm, the MMA was administered by the Department of Community Health (DCH) but Gov. Snyder moved those responsibilities to LARA shortly after taking office. Activists have been submitting petitions to have conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) added to the list of qualifying conditions since 2009, when the MMA took effect and the administrative rules were made public. Despite the petitions and pressure from marijuana community leaders both DCH and LARA had refused to create the Panel.
Since the Panel met in 2012 they have determined that both PTSD and Parkinson's Disease should be added to the list of qualifying conditions. They had already announced the next two illnesses to be considered: autism and asthma.
Joy Yearout, in the government's Communications office, has failed to return phone calls and has not issued any follow-up statements regarding media inquiries regarding this issue. To date, no official statement has been issued definitively stating if LARA will honor the two recommendations already made.
View the complete letter:
Source: The Compassion Chronicles