Senator Jones takes up the highly controversial package of bills seeking to establish a framework for Michigan's medical marijuana distribution centers on October 20.
The bills- HB 4209, 4210 and 4827- passed the House of Representatives earlier this year and were assigned for Senate debate in the Judiciary Committee. The bills are controversial not because they propose to regulate dispensaries and growing facilities, but because they do so in a way that excludes registered caregivers, puts barriers to entry at levels unattainable for small business and leaves many of the program's most critical elements undefined. Those elements will be decided by a government-appointed review board that does not easily take citizen input.
Michigan has an estimated 250-300 medical marijuana distribution centers already operating despite the absence of state regulation. A recent report by Loveland Technologies revealed that Detroit has at least 148 identifiable centers, although city officials called that number into question during a Zoning Commission meeting on October 15. In some cities ordinances protect the centers, and in others they exist at the whim of the local prosecutors and Councils.
The Senate Hearing on Oct. 20 won't actually be taking up the three bills, and there may not be an opportunity for citizens to speak. Sen Jones has scheduled three presentations from corporations seeking to sell services to the state: BioTrack THC, Beacon Information Designs, LLC., and Blue Health and Wellness Center, LLC.
Rep. Michael Callton introduced an industry-written dispensary bill in 2011 and he's altered it many times since then. His dispensary bill was nearly made law in December of 2014; after passing the House and a Senate Committee, the state's law enforcement community lobbied to stop passage of a two-bill package on the very last day of the legislative session.
Rep. Klint Kesto hijacked HB 4209 from Callton after the inferior Republican brought it back into the legislature in January 2015. What began this year as Callton's 'Provisioning Centers Act' is now Judiciary Committee Chairman Kesto's 'Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act'. Kesto sponsored HB 4827 and even held a hearing on the bill before it was introduced to the House or assigned to his Committee. That bill, the Seed-To-Sale Tracking bill, was industry inspired (cough, cough) by a Colorado company who wants to sell services to the state. It was rushed to print and to a vote so quickly there are no other sponsors or co-sponsors listed on HB 4827; Kesto's name stands alone.
The new version of HB 4209 is so controversial that attendance is grand for the Committee Hearings. There was standing room only in the House chambers when Kesto's House Judiciary hearings were held and overflow rooms were used each time. On the final day of hearings for the now three-bill package, Kesto, fearing what might be said by the citizens, called for a vote on the bills BEFORE allowing those taxpaying voters in attendance the opportunity to speak.
Fellow Judiciary Committee member Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) confirmed that Kesto 'gotchya' ploy was bizarre. Irwin told the Planet Green Trees Radio Show that it was the first time in his 5 1/2 years of sitting on the Judiciary that he had seen the Committee vote on a bill before taking testimony on the language in that session.
More of the same treatment can be expected from Jones in his Senate Committee, as he is a former Sheriff who has belittled and denied speaking rights to medical marijuana patients in past Committee hearings.
Below is the official notice of the Judiciary Committee meeting:
NOTICE OF SCHEDULED MEETING
DATE: Tuesday, October 20, 2015
TIME: 3:00 p.m.
PLACE: Room 110, Farnum Building, 125 W. Allegan Street, Lansing, MI 48933
PHONE: Corey Woodby (517) 373-1721
Presentations on Medical Marihuana Regulation by:
Beacon Information Designs, LLC.
Blue Health and Wellness Center, LLC.
SB 487 Sen. Booher Corrections; other; operating unmanned aerial vehicles within 1,000 feet of correctional facility; prohibit, and provide penalties.
SB 488 Sen. Booher Criminal procedure; sentencing guidelines; sentencing guidelines for operating unmanned aerial vehicles within 1,000 feet of correctional facility; enact.
SB 558 Sen. Jones Probate; other; dower rights; repeal.
SB 559 Sen. Jones Family law; marriage and divorce; requirement that judgment of divorce contain provisions regarding wife's dower rights; eliminate.
SB 560 Sen. Jones Probate; wills and estates; reference to dower in estates and protected individuals code; revise to reflect abolition of dower.
HB 4535 Rep. Theis Weapons; licensing; purchase permit process; exempt law enforcement officers.
And any other business properly before the committee.
In the spirit of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), individuals with a disability should feel free to contact the Office of the Secretary of the Senate by phone [(517) 373-2400] or by TDD [(517) 373-0543] if requesting special services to effectively participate in the meeting.
Senate Majority Committee Clerk