Senator Jones, the legislature's leader in receiving campaign contributions from the medical marijuana industry, has finally authorized the hearing of a trio of medical marijuana bills in the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee. Well, he sort of granted them a hearing.
A notice for the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 1:00 PM listed the three bills passed by the Michigan House- HBs 4209, 4210 and 4827- as being on the agenda for amendment, debate and voting. But don't get too excited about the opportunity to tell the Senate what a crappy piece of legislation this current version of HB 4209 is, or how unnecessary a seed-to-sale tracking system is in Michigan.
Senator Jones ALSO scheduled 14 other bills for consideration on the same day, in the same session, per the notice sent on December 3 at 11:56. On Dec. 4 at 2:12 an updated Agenda was sent out redefining the bills into two categories: those taking testimony only, and those bills which are available for amendment, debate or voting. 8 bills are testimony only; the dispensary bills are not. These Committee sessions typically last a single hour.
Over the last two months, the Senate Judiciary Committee has conducted three sessions where testimony was taken from out-of-state commercial interests, in-state dispensary operators, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies- but not from actual citizens or medical marijuana patients. Sen. Jones will finally call the medical marijuana bills for a potential vote, but with no reasonable expectation of public participation.
Perhaps that's politically expedient for Jones and the Senate Republicans but it's not the way to create good law. But, maybe he doesn't care; according to a new report from Fox 2 News in Detroit, Sen. Jones recently received more registered contributions to his PAC from the marijuana industry ($16,000) than any other legislator, including bill sponsors Rep. Michael Callton ($12,000) and Rep. Lisa Lyons (less than $2,000).
Apparently, it pays better to be a stick-in-the-mud Committee Chair than it does to be a sponsor of progressive legislation. Ask the reptilian Rep. Klint Kesto ($11,000 in donations) who chairs the House Committee in which the dispensary and concentrates bills were snagged up in earlier this year. He cashed the checks, too.
One of those groups granted an opportunity to testify was the National Patients Rights Association (NPRA), and their Chairman Adam Macdonald is worried about behind-the-scenes manipulation of bill language by outside interests.
"We (the NPRA) have spent several years working to provide patients with safe access to their medicine. We had reached an agreement on bill content with both law enforcement and the patient advocacy groups involved, but it appears a new amendment for the alcohol industry is being added to HB 4209 (via amendment on Dec. 8)," Macdonald revealed.
"This is a new development and a drastic change that we, as a pro-patient organization, will not be able to support. It's unlikely the bills will pass if the three-tiered recreational alcohol model is added."
Even without knowledge of this sophisticated Senate betrayal, marijuana community advocates expressed their anger over the current bills- and the legislative manipulation that changed them during the 2015 session.
"I've totally lost faith in the integrity of the legislature to make positive changes in these restrictive, overbearing bills," said Jamie Lowell of Michigan ASA and the MILegalize campaign. "I don't see these bills being significantly improved while in the Senate; if anything, Sen. Jones is going to make them more restrictive and raise the taxes."
"Although I am incredibly excited at the prospect of the bills being heard in the legislature I am extremely apprehensive about the potential amendments that could be made to the language," said Jim Powers of Michigan Parents for Compassion.
That sentiment was echoed by Southfield attorney Michael Komorn. "I think most people in the medical marijuana community have lost faith in Michigan's legislature," he told TCC.
"We know these bills do not have patients and caregivers in mind. They have been warped into bills that favor the law enforcement community. I think 3.3 million Michigan voters were pretty clear when they said they did not want law enforcement policing medical marijuana patients."
Two other medical marijuana bills are making a Senate Judiciary appearance on Dec. 8: SB 140 and the tie-barred companion bill SB 141, which were introduced in February. SB 140 is the Senate version of the House concentrates bill, and SB 141 is a technical correction in law mandated by language contained in SB 140.
The prospect of the bills being amended and voted on was the subject of great discussion on the Planet Green Trees Radio Show broadcast of Dec. 3; listen to the podcast at www.planetgreentrees.com
The official notice of the meeting appears below.
NOTICE OF SCHEDULED MEETING
**PLEASE NOTE TIME AND LOCATION**
DATE: Tuesday, December 8, 2015
TIME: 1:00 p.m.
PLACE: Senate Hearing Room, Ground Floor, Boji Tower, 124 W. Allegan Street, Lansing, MI 48933
PHONE:Corey Woodby (517) 373-1721
SB 20 Sen. Shirkey Criminal procedure; other; default standard for mens rea in criminal statutes; establish.
SB 140 Sen. Shirkey Health; medical marihuana; marihuana-infused products; allow and regulate.
SB 141 Sen. Young Criminal procedure; sentencing guidelines; sentencing guidelines for selling marihuana in violation of registry identification card restrictions; update.
SB 551 Sen. Schuitmaker Probate; wills and estates; designation of a funeral representative to make disposition arrangements for decedent; provide for.
HB 4209 Rep. Callton Health; medical marihuana; state and local regulation of marihuana provisioning centers; provide for.
HB 4210 Rep. Lyons Health; medical marihuana; marihuana-infused products; allow and regulate.
HB 4680 Rep. Pagel Corrections; other; authority for correctional industries to engage in certain private manufacturing or service enterprises; extend sunset.
HB 4713 Rep. McBroom Criminal procedure; other; default standard for mens rea in criminal statutes; establish.
HB 4827 Rep. Kesto Marihuana; administration; seed-to-sale tracking system for commercial marihuana; establish.
SB 629 Sen. Jones Children; parental rights; termination of parental rights to a child; expand to include forcible rape where child results.
HB 4476 Rep. Santana Civil procedure; other; mediation; limit in certain domestic relations actions.
HB 4477 Rep. Kesto Civil procedure; appeals; service of papers; provide for alternate service if party is protected by a protective order.
HB 4478 Rep. Kosowski Civil procedure; personal protection orders; acts that may be enjoined; include harming animals owned by petitioner.
HB 4479 Rep. Price Crimes; assaultive; assault of a pregnant woman; increase penalties under certain circumstances.
HB 4480 Rep. Heise Children; protection; factors determining best interest of child; modify in cases of domestic violence.
HB 4481 Rep. Lyons Family law; child custody; custody or parenting time for certain parents of a child conceived through sexual assault or sexual abuse; prohibit under certain circumstances.
HB 4788 Rep. Price Criminal procedure; sentencing guidelines; sentencing guidelines for crime of assault and battery of a pregnant individual; provide for.
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] if requesting special services to effectively participate in the meeting.
Any questions regarding the meeting itself should be directed to:
Senate Majority Committee Clerk
Issues with access to the Senator, the medical marijuana bills themselves or persons requesting to speak should contact Sen. Jones' office directly at: (517) 373-3447